The Gala: Combining Modern and Ballet in Innovative Ways (preview)


Luc Vanier

Rehearsal pic of Gala, credit Luc Vanier

By Lynette Randall

Featuring an iconic confluence of two creative groups, the ballet and modern dance programs will be premiering a unique collaboration in their upcoming School of Dance Gala. A mix between original choreography and famous restaged works, the Gala will perform a myriad of different pieces.

Co-director Brent Schneider, a professor at the School of Dance, said: “Each piece is wildly different and specific to the choreographer and the dancers.”

The Gala presents a new perspective to the dance atmosphere at the University of Utah by combining two highly creative and talented, albeit vastly different programs.

“I have felt separated from the ballet programs dancers in the past and this experience has allowed me to meet and become better friends with some beautiful dancers,” said Nicholas Gibas, a junior in the modern dance program and a dancer in the Gala.

Lydia Pohly emphasized the skill level of each. “Our two programs are exceptional so I can’t wait for others to see us perform together,” the junior in the modern dance program and a dancer in the Gala said.

In addition to fusing two programs, the actual dances within the program will contribute uniqueness.

The event will begin with Act III of the legendary ballet, “Swan Lake.” 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, adapted by Jay Kim and James Addy for the Gala.

Another featured work in the Gala is School of Dance Director Luc Vanier’s “Triptych Octet.” 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.

“They have challenged me to constantly investigate choreography and keep researching the movement every time I rehearse it,” said Pohly.

An additional original work that will be featured is “Enough” by Modern Dance Program Coordinator Stephen Koester. 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.

The Gala’s final piece is an excerpt from “MiddleSexGorge” by Stephen Petronio, restaged by guest artist in residence, Gino Grenek. A signature anthem to gender and power, the dance propels the dancers through space in bold, sensually charged encounters inspired by Petronio’s involvement with ACT UP, or AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, in the late ’80s. This is the first time “MiddleSexGorge” will be performed by any university.

Speaking of the prestige of Petronio’s art, Schneider said, “It is an honor to display his work.”

The School of Dance’s Gala will be a significant event for all involved in the art of dance as well as for first-time dance participants.

“The Gala is a wonderful opportunity for students who may be unfamiliar with dance to be exposed to a variety of works and styles,” said Angela Lee, a junior in the modern dance program and dancer in the gala.

“Both programs create exceptional dancers and now that we are in one show, the audience will be able to see that in many different styles and it may introduce some audience members to new ideas pertaining to dance,” Gibas added.

Commemorating the coalition of many enthusiastic and passionate artists, the Gala will certainly capture the vision of the School of Dance and provide a satisfying artistic experience for audience members.

“The Gala is going to be a ground-breaking moment for the school of dance and for Utah,” said Gibas.

Lee agreed. “Hopefully, [this] will be the first of many more years for the collaboration between both departments.”

The School of Dance Gala will be held on March 23-25 and March 30-April 1 at the Marriott Center for Dance. In addition to the evening performances at 7:30 p.m. there will be a 2:00 p.m. matinee performance both Saturdays. 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

Performance tickets are free with a U card and general tickets are $12.

[email protected]