University of Utah 2019-2020 Arts Recap

By Gabrielle Klinge, Arts Writer


The fine arts at the University of Utah were put on display in a variety of mediums during the 2019-20 school year. Theater productions, ballet concerts and orchestra performances, amongst other artistic showcases exhibited the talents of many aspiring and established artists at the U, along with providing quality entertainment for the students.


The U’s theatre program brought the heat, or the drama, this last year with six outstanding productions. Theatre majors opened the season with a chilling, yet fun-filled spin on Dracula: “Dracula, the Musical!” Director and choreographer Denny Berry defined this production as a “Gothic, horror fantasy,” and it certainly did not disappoint its attendees in that regard.

Next on the agenda was the U’s take on renowned Shakespeare play “Macbeth.” The U’s theatre department gave its viewers the opportunity to reflect upon society’s imposition of gender roles with an unlikely reversal of the main character’s gender. Theatre students also brought us back to ancient Greece in Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of “The Odyssey” in early November.

The eccentric “Dungeons and Dragons”-themed play, “She Kills Monsters,” was the first theatrical production of the spring semester. The theatre department pulled out all the stops for this performance, with students making the fantastic puppets featured in the production themselves — with the help of guest artist Matt Sorenson. To top it all off, students were able to watch this play inside the impressive walls of Kingsbury Hall.

“Floyd Collins” was the last theatre performance at the U during the 2019-20 school year due to COVID-19. Molère’s “Tartuffe” was supposed to be the final production of the spring season, but was postponed in wake of the pandemic. The production has been rescheduled for mid-August but is subject to change with recent public health concerns being a factor of contingency.


In addition to our outstanding year in theatre, our brilliant School of Dance put on a show for audiences all year round, with exciting dance performances featuring both the ballet and modern dance programs that showcased the amazing talent and skill prevalent at the U.

Dance students delivered moving performances during the first concert that included a wide array of different and unique styles. Productions ranged from ballet pieces, such as an act from the 1842-choreographed Giselle,” to more modern pieces like Second to Last” which opened on Halloween.

The director of the U’s Second to Last” performance Pablo Piantino said, “The language of ballet has been evolving throughout generations and this is reflected in the repertories of countless ballet companies around the world … As faculty members of the School of Dance, we have a responsibility to introduce and challenge our students, and our community, to these trends and changes in the field.”

Another enjoyable feature of the U’s dance program was the Student Showcase that took place in December. This concert was composed of a variety of short, creative pieces that were all student-produced. According to sophomore Amber Walterscheid, a student at the U’s School of Dance, “[The Student Showcase] is an opportunity to experiment with choreography, the staging process, what goes on behind the scenes and, of course, another performance opportunity.” 


The concerts that the U’s premier orchestra, the Utah Philharmonia, put on at the U were other delightful ways that students could experience the fine arts. One of the most thrilling productions that the Philharmonia has put on for the past 18 years has been the annual Haunted Orchestra. The musicians produced a mysterious show, with the theme of this year’s concert being myths and legends. The entire orchestra performed in their Halloween costumes and encouraged members of the audience to do so themselves. 

The Utah Philharmonia also had the opportunity to perform with students from China’s Wuhan University this last year. Concepts that explored international relationships were expressed in this concert that took place on Sept. 19, 2019. The Director of Orchestral Activities at the U, Professor Robert Baldwin, said, “I feel it is important anytime we can bring people together. The arts do this better than almost anything else because it relies on collaboration and sharing. We all need to work together to make a concert happen, and in doing so we concentrate on the goal rather than our differences.

Though cut short, the 2019-20 school year was massively successful for arts at the U. With strange times before and ahead of us, it’ll be interesting to see how the College of Fine Arts and all of its constituents adjust to this coming school year’s unique circumstances, and how they’ll continue to produce beautiful and engaging art.


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