prev | next    

Lines to Read Between

Choreography and video: John Utans
Alan Morse Davies
Costume design:
Boye-Christensen, Cynthia Turner &
John Utans
Lighting: Nicholas Cavallaro


Performed by Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Salt Lake City Utah, April 2005

Shirley Ririe
Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founder
Joan Woodbury
Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founder
Charlotte Boye-Christensen
Associate Artistic Director

Jo Blake, Juan Carlos Claudio, Ai Fujii, Caine Keenan, Melissa McDonald, Jill Patterson.

Making art is always a journey into unknown territories: one may have a map; an idea of the direction as to where you may travel, but one is never sure what may be encountered along the way; the new directions or the obstacles that lead you onto other paths and the place it is that you may finally arrive. A bit like taking a vacation or traveling through life…

This work emerged from ideas and images of landscape. As I traveled to Salt Lake City for the first time, I was thinking of a place familiar to me, The Great Sandy Desert and its dried lake in South Australia and a place new and unknown, The Great Salt Lake and its city in Utah. Images of open expanses of sand and water; vast horizons and what it may have been like for those encountering these places for the first time.

The video component of the work documents another journey; a trip with Charlotte into the mountains that surround this city.

Working with the composer, Alan Morse Davies, in Hong Kong, we wanted to create an environment where everything traveled along a linier pathway, an expansive area where a sense of time and place can merge.

I wish to thank Charlotte Boye-Christensen for her constant thoughtfulness, humor and support, Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe for their pioneering inspiration and encouragement (What amazing people these woman are!), the dancers for their input, dedication and willingness to explore. And Alan Morse Davies, for his generosity, creativity and the beautiful score created for this work.


The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company finished up an already strong season by serving up two meaty premieres on its Ensembles program, which opened Thursday at the Rose.

“Lines to Read Between” is the company’s first acquisition from Australian choreographer John Utans. This commissioned work to a commissioned score is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Utans calls the piece a “metaphor of travels and journeys, of changing perspectives,” and “Lines” bears out this vision.

Providing a definite journey-related backdrop are a number of televisions of varying sizes, all playing footage of road trips. They do a little more than suggest literal journeys, though. Like the chairs in Zvi Gotheiner’s work of the same name, they are used to bound the space within which the dancers perform.

Utans has a wonderful sense of composition. Especially strong are his sense of asymmetrical opposition — difficult to convey with a half dozen dancers — and his use of ever-changing dynamic. In the former case, he groups his dancers in visually pleasing ways, moving seamlessly from a quartet bounded by two soloists to multiple duets to trios and back. In the latter, he tinkers with the energy onstage: a fluid duet downstage left gives rise to a brisk solo exit stage right.

The dancers weave in and out of the TV-bounded space so they switch from observer to performer and back. Utans’ double work, while contemporary, demonstrates his strong balletic background. Not only are his partnering moves innovative: something about the movement gives the impression that the two dancers are really one being. As in popping, a wave generated at one pole of the body ripples and flows till it arrives at the pole opposite: the body that is executing the steps just happens to have a few extra appendages.

The score meshes well with the movement. At times, it seems to be teasing the listener’s ear. The mainly-instrumental work is interrupted periodically by a few phrases that are sung. Something about the quality of the vocalized text sounds like the words are being played back to front at the same time the melody itself follows Western musical conventions and seems to be flowing front to back. An interesting effect, and a fitting accompaniment to this very cool piece.

Karen Anne Webb
Red Magazine, Utah April 2005