Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company History

Ririe-Woodbury (Rī-rē Woŏd-bûr-ē) Dance Company is Utah's most established institution for contemporary dance. The Company actively embraces and commissions the work of contemporary choreographers, tours worldwide, and develops dynamic education and community outreach programming. Through performance and educational undertakings, the Company pursues its mission to make dance a viable part of everyone’s life– whether it be as creators, performers, dance educators, critics, or as participating audience members. Over the 53 years of its history, Ririe-Woodbury has toured nationally and internationally, always advocating the philosophy that “dance is for everybody.”

Under the direction of Executive Director Jena Woodbury, Artistic Director Daniel Charon, and Education Director Ai Fujii Nelson, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is committed to building upon the vision of its founders as it continues to evolve as an important voice for innovation in contemporary dance and dance education.

COMPANY HISTORY:

Ririe-Woodbury was founded in 1964 by two Utah women, Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe, who were both professors of dance at the University of Utah. Their passions included performance, choreography, and pedagogy. This focus was accompanied by a deep commitment to dance as a valuable art form and its importance as a component of a well-rounded education for children. Over the years, the Company has grown from its beginning as a local entity, into an internationally renowned contemporary dance company, having performed in every state in the United States, as well as in South Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the British Isles, and throughout Europe.

ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE – The Company founders were active in the earliest dance programs created by the National Endowment for the Arts. In that fertile atmosphere, the Company grew in stature and recognition. From 1999-2001 former Company dancer Emmy Thomson advanced the vision of the Company as associate artistic director. Then, in 2002, Danish choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen was appointed artistic director and contributed to the Company’s development with a focus on dancer training and a European sensitivity and perspective. In 2003, the Company partnered with The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance (under the artistic direction of Alberto del Saz) to present the works of American postmodernist dance master Alwin Nikolais. As a result of the success of that early collaboration, Ririe-Woodbury is currently designated as the only company given the rights to perform full evenings of Nikolais’ work. In June 2013, the Company welcomed its current Artistic Director, New York dance-artist Daniel Charon. His vision builds upon the Company’s rich foundation, while incorporating his own distinctive viewpoint as a former dancer and as a rising choreographer.

DANCE EDUCATION – In 1972, Ririe-Woodbury was selected as one of only 20 dance companies to participate in two prestigious national initiatives: the Dance Touring Program and the Artists in the Schools Program. This opportunity led to the creation of the Company’s education program, which became a national model that is still used for dance education in the schools today. Currently, Ririe-Woodbury has an education and an outreach director whose jobs are singularly focused on creating dance opportunities for a wide audience, including toddlers, schoolchildren, adults, and nursing home residents. To enable the fulfillment of its commitment to bring dance into everyone’s life, the Company trains its dancers as both performers and as educators, with special emphasis on kindergarten through high school dance education.

DANCE PRESENTATION – Located in downtown Salt Lake City, Ririe-Woodbury produces three unique productions annually, presenting new works created by the Company artistic director, along with new commissions from both emerging and established choreographers from all over the world. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company curates a range of performances, from shows that appeal to the contemporary dance aficionado, to programs created for families to experience together. With educational offerings, community outreach, and performance adaptability, the Company extends its reach through national and international touring – with the goal of fostering interest and awareness in dance, and the engagement of performing arts audiences.

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