Sunday, April 01, 2001

Dancers sizzle with passion in variegated program

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

        The best things about the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company are the six dancers involved. Not that there's a shabby work in the eclectic modern repertory - it's just that the young performers are exceptionally talented. They could make walking fascinating.

        Contemporary Dance Theater has brought a great number of talented dancers to the Tristate over the years, but none with quite the snap and zest of this attractive group. They look to be barely out of high school, but they dance with the savvy of pros.

        At Friday's performance at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan, Doug Varone's “Let's Dance” came closest to mining individual talents. He finds the strength in each individual and exploits it.

        His '40s style moves call for quickness and control. With a light touch and humorous good fun he gives everyone some serious dancing to sell to the sounds of Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.

        Sean Curran's “Metal Garden” and Stephen Koester's “This Ain't No Tango” are agreeable works, each approaching the passionate from different angles.

        Mr. Curran has taken simple gestures and developed building rhythms. The style and look range from Latin to East Indian to American funk. He takes his inspiration from New York night life.

        Mr. Koester's provocative moves to the sound of Astor Piazzolla border on apache dancing - where partners are flung around with eager abandon.

        Pascal Rioult's heavy hitting “Wien” was the most serious work on the program. His menac ing little waltz to Maurice Ravel's La Valse takes on the task of symbolizing a disintegrating society at the start of the Nazi era. The atmosphere is evil and unsettling. Dancers swirl as the waltz intensifies; their lives appear out of control.The pace builds in ferocity until everyone collapses.

        Under the co-direction of Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe, this 37-year-old Salt Lake City company couldn't look fresher. The secret seems to be hiring vibrant performers and keeping them busy with rousing choreography.


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