SALT Contemporary Dance Company Explodes into Its 10th Season


SALT Dance Company (Courtesy SALT Contemporary Dance Company)

By Zach Anderson, Arts Writer


On Nov. 3, 2022, the SALT Contemporary Dance Company opened its doors for a 10-year anniversary gala. As someone who’s been in and out of the dance sphere for most of my life, I was eager to see what SALT had in store. As expected, they did not disappoint. With a versatile range of emotions and stage effects woven together with beautifully coordinated choreography, SALT Dance Company is starting this season with toes pointed and guns blazing.

The Artistic Director

Before the show started, I was lucky enough to sit with artistic director and choreographer Joni McDonald, who’s been with the company since its inception. Starting out as a dancer herself and working her way up the ranks, McDonald has been running SALT for around four years. She’s thrilled about guiding SALT as far as it has gone, but for her, “the best thing is these times when I get to watch the dancers to see how far they’ve progressed and see the beauty they put into it.”

When asked about the audience she envisioned choreographing her dance for, McDonald said, “I tried to make it for everyone, especially this piece. … I specifically used very nostalgic, classical music, which is sometimes not used in contemporary dance, but I wanted to use music that was familiar to the general population. … When you see this work, it feels really nostalgic even though it’s a fresh take on those pieces of music.”

She had me intrigued, and her dance kept my attention.

The Performances

There were three separate performances throughout the night attributed to separate choreographers, the first of whom was McDonald. The experience she took me through was one that was magical and blissfully serene. It was so peaceful that when the curtains were first raised, you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium. The dancers flowed like water through the air and were as gentle as they were powerful.

The second performance of the night was choreographed by Los Angeles choreographer Micaela Taylor. Vastly different from McDonald’s performance’s bliss, the dancers’ movements were harsh, confused and almost violent. The intense lighting and bold colors stuck out the most as I witnessed something so dystopian yet so awe-inspiring at the same time.

Last but certainly not least, there was the performance by Barcelona-based choreographer Garrett Smith. A good mix of both of the previous performances, Smith crafted something that’s not too dark, but also not entirely light-hearted. Instead, it was entirely frantic and perilous. With red lighting and spotlighted shadows, the intensity and incredibly coordinated dancers gripped me and the audience for the whole duration.

With each dance led by its own choreographer and such distinguishing voices from one another, the talent behind SALT Dance Company made me feel a myriad of emotions I wouldn’t have previously connected with one performance. Watching these folks dance is inspiring to all who watch it. Unfortunately, I have two left feet, so I’ll have to keep my ballet slippers hung.

To stay up to date with the SALT Contemporary Dance Company, visit


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