Uncovering beauty in chaos in this year’s School of Dance Gala

The School of Dance presents the annual Gala concert, combining the talents from the ballet and modern programs this Feb 2/25 – 2/27. Taking a hybrid approach of in person and online rehearsals, the School is excited to safely share the Gala production, live, online and free to the public.

“I continue to be impressed by our artists – dancers, choreographers, guests artists and production staff – who go above and beyond to make sure dance continues to be relevant during the pandemic,” says School of Dance Director Luc Vanier.

This energetic program features premieres from School of Dance faculty Eric Handman, Sara Pickett, and Rick McCullough, and a new creation by world renowned guest artist Jennifer Archibald of Archibald Dance. The live streamed performance can be viewed through the School’s website, and guests are encouraged to RSVP in advance through the dance.utah.edu/virtualshows page.

New York City based choreographer Jennifer Archibald has created “The Golden Ratio” with the support of the School of Dance’s Benjamin Sandberg. Utilizing the stunning interior of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Archibald’s film examines “how uncovering beauty in chaos can be a divine intervention.” The film features music composed by Modern Dance Program Head Michael Wall and costume design by Costume Director Christopher Larson.

Jennifer Archibald is the founder and Artistic Director of the Arch Dance Company and Program Director of ArchCore40 Dance Intensives. Archibald has choreographed for the Atlanta Ballet, Ailey II, Kansas City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and worked commercially for Tommy Hilfiger, NIKE and MAC Cosmetics as well as chart-listed singers and actors. She was appointed as the first female Resident Choreographer in Cincinnati Ballet’s 40-year history. This season she has created works for Cincinnati Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Ballet West, Sacramento Ballet and Stockholm’s Balletakademien and will create new works for Oregon Ballet Theatre, Richmond Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, BalletX and National Ballet of Canada in 2021.

The Gala program also includes “crawlspace,” a new collaboration between choreographer Eric Handman and artists from the School of Dance Modern Dance Program. “The high-speed, stop-action physicality and assertive floorwork were built off of physical and typographical glimpses from the 2002 film Minority Report, George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle from quantum mechanics.” The piece is set to electronic music by Aleph-1, with lighting by Cole Adams and costumes by Olivia Lee Mason.

Assistant Professor Sara Pickett works with rhythm and groove as a starting point for much of her work. In her piece, “With,” Pickett asks dancers to explore both far and close spheres of action adding explorations of twisting, sculpting, and writhing.  “With,” relishes in dynamic movement, often pulling from the hip hop idiom with twelve dancers moving in unison and crisscrossing spatial pathways. Turn up your stereos for this one as the beats of Gidge, Nikita Quasim and Nicolas Jaar fill the space.

Driven by the challenging circumstances of the last year, A Professor Rick McCullough brings us “Defiance,” a world premiere ballet in three movements for twelve dancers. The work’s mood and impulse come from the determination to carry on in the face of disease, distance, injury, age, social unrest, time limits, and uncertainty.  This dance “defies” those challenges that make us want to give up, give in, or think that going on is impossible. Powered by the energetic score of Philip Glass, and performed by the superb young artists of University of Utah’s School of Dance, “Defiance’ is a work that celebrates optimism in the face of adversity.

The School of Dance has made it possible to allow as many people into the audience as possible by live-streaming the work at no cost. We are excited to share the amazing talents of our students and choreographers. Register in advance for the Gala at dance.utah/edu/virtualshows.

Showtimes are February 25 at 5:30, February 26 at 7:30, and February 27 at 2:00 & 7:30.