Ballet and Modern Dancers Share the Stage in the First Ever School of Dance Gala

06 March 2017 Published in News and Announcements

The Ballet and Modern Dance programs will share the stage for the first time ever in the School of Dance’s inaugural Gala Concert this March. Formed in 2016, the new School of Dance is dedicated to the continued legacies of the individual disciplines of Ballet and Modern Dance. In honor of the creation of this School, the Gala concert will feature a diverse program, incorporating four unique perspectives on the art of dance including an excerpt of Swan Lake, two original faculty works, and culminating with an excerpt of Stephen Petronio’s iconic masterwork MiddleSexGorge.

The program opens with Act III of the legendary ballet, Swan Lake, boldly adapted by Professor Jay Kim and assisted by Professor James Ady. The version performed is the 1895 revival first staged for the Imperial Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.

School of Dance Director Luc Vanier’s Triptych Octet is a distillation of the evening length work, Triptych. Created in 2008, Triptych was created in collaboration with composer Chris Burns and painter Leslie Vansen. The dance’s movement research focuses primarily on allowing the body to arch to its full capacity and what this means for the balance between the head, spine and the pelvis. The clockwork precision timing of the crisscrossing patterns of the two trios is inspired by Vansen’s abstract paintings. The duet explores what it means to be tri-legged as Burn’s percussive score sets the spacious rhythmic tone for the work.

Enough, a new work by Modern Dance Program Coordinator Stephen Koester, started by asking the question, “As civilization ‘advances,’ have we become any more civilized or humane?” Our history can be said to be littered with our inability to treat others with humanity, kindness and care, as beliefs, faiths, greed, need, and want trump responsibility to each other. Juxtaposing a solo figure against a quartet, the dance evokes images of injury, injustice, offense and defeat, building to a sense of desolation and disconnection. Koester contrasts visceral, aggressive movement and his signature partnering with a serene sound score by composer Max Richter.

The exciting final dance on the Gala program is an excerpt of the groundbreaking work, MiddleSexGorge. First debuted in 1990, MiddleSexGorge is choreographer Stephen Petronio’s signature anthem to gender and power. With heat and volatility, MiddleSexGorge propels the dancers through space in bold, sensually charged encounters inspired by Petronio's involvement with ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in the late ’80s. The piece is set to a commissioned score by the British post-punk band, Wire. Gino Grenek, whose work with the Stephen Petronio Company spans over 17 years, was the guest artist in residence who staged the work on the dancers. This is the first time MiddleSexGorge will be performed by any university, and it is a great honor for the School of Dance students from both programs to have the opportunity to perform this technically demanding piece together.

Join us for the School of Dance Gala, March 23-25 and March 30-April 1 at the Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah. In addition to the evening performances there will be a 2:00 PM matinee performance both Saturdays of the run. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 801.581.7100 or at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. A celebration dinner precedes the April 1 evening performance; for dinner tickets or more information please visit