Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company

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The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is an American contemporary dance company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Founded in 1964 by University of Utah dance faculty members Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe the company is dedicated to furthering contemporary dance by creating and performing original works of modern dance, and promoting the understanding of and appreciation for the art form of dance through educational outreach programs in public schools and in universities.

Overview[edit]

Before founding Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in 1964, Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury helped create Choreodancers, a company of professional dance performers and teachers. After the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company name became permanent, the company choreographed and performed in Utah and throughout Arizona, California and Colorado.

While at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis in 1968, Joan accepted a Minnesota Arts Council invitation to perform at four colleges. Woodbury returned to Salt Lake City where she and Ririe choreographed a performance and lecture for the Minnesota tour. In 1971, the show was seen in Canada by members of the first US-Canada dance conference.

A breakthrough came in the following year when the company performed at The Space in New York through director Alwin Nikolais. Representatives of the National Endowment for the Arts attended the performance and accepted the company for the Endowment's Artists In Schools and Dance Touring Programs.

The company's acceptance in these programs offered full-time touring as a national company and the most "Artists In Schools" performances in the United States of any company for 12 years.[citation needed] Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company was chosen to be part of the Dance On Tour state-touring program from 1990 to 1994 and performed in South Carolina, Kentucky, Montana and New Mexico.

The Company continued to perform internationally. In 1977, the International Congress of Girls' and Women's Sports invited the Company to South Africa for an extended tour of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria, marking the first time that a nationally and racially diverse performing group had performed in those areas.[citation needed] In 1978, they were chosen by the United States as representatives to the first Dance and the Child International meeting in Canada.

In 1980 Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company was selected as the first U.S. modern dance company to perform in Šibenik of former Yugoslavia. The company also performed in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore. In 2002 Ririe-Woodbury became the first modern dance company to perform in Canton, China.

From 1987-1992 company tours included Europe, American Samoa, and the former Soviet Union. Just one month before the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the dancers performed in East Germany and were the first modern dancers to perform in Karl-Marx Stadt in the former Soviet Union and East Berlin in 15 years.[citation needed]

In 1993, the company traveled to Slovenia. Ririe-Woodbury performed a benefit fundraiser for 70,000 Bosnian war refugees who were seeking shelter in Slovenian collection centers.

Recently, the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance selected Ririe-Woodbury as the dance company to house the works of modern dance innovator Alwin Nikolais, as his company, Nikolais Dance Theatre was no longer in operation. Ririe-Woodbury's performances of works by Nikolais have received five-star reviews in the New York Times and the LA Times.[citation needed]

In 2004 Ririe-Woodbury was one of five dance companies invited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2006, the company presented Nikolais's "Tensile Involvement" at the Fall for Dance Festival in New York City.

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