School of Dance’s Second Annual Gala Kicks Off on Thursday

By Madge Slack

Dancers from both the modern and ballet departments are preparing for their second annual dance gala, which will be held this weekend. The performance will be at Kingsbury Hall, and as a special treat, the show will be accompanied by the School of Music.

Two University of Utah professors, Eric Handman and Molly Heller, will present original works. As if this event could get any better, guest artists of two award-winning ballet companies are choreographing pieces. Michele Wiles of BalletNext and Matthew Neenan of BalletX will be creating the first two pieces of the night. For those of you who are traditionalists, don’t worry — the night will conclude with the second act of “Swan Lake,” which has been brought back to life by Jan Clark Fugit, a professor in the School of Dance.

Not only do we get to see Michele Wiles’s choreography, but she will actually be performing as a part of her piece titled “Bach + 8.” This piece will be a new rendition reminiscent of Edgar Degas’s famous paintings. It features eight female dancers.

Matthew Neenan’s piece is titled “In the cold light of day.” It is designed to make you feel off-kilter, contrasting flowing movement with sporadic bursts of jaggedness. Neenan hopes to make the audience engage with the piece by keeping them unbalanced. To accomplish his purpose he has chosen 18 dancers, nine from each department, and blended them until they are a seamless unit of choreography.

Molly Heller takes the show in an entirely new direction: Buddhism. Her piece is titled the “The Middle” and is one of the smaller casts with only five dancers. This piece will be high energy and features what Heller calls “tennis shoe couture.”

The final new work is by Eric Handman. It has an interesting twist — one of the cast members is a drone. Titled “Galatea Prime,” this piece draws on psychology, classical ballet and the work of E.T.A. Hoffman, an author of Gothic horror.

All in all, it promises to be an interesting evening. There will be a pre-show talk on March 16 at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are free for U students and $20 for general admission. They can be purchased at the Kingsbury Hall box office or online at

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