Ballet West creates 1st of its kind ballet festival in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — Ballet West is dreaming "big." The company has created a festival that it hopes will be a draw for other dance companies and audiences throughout the country, and someday, the world.

Dancers will have their first opportunity to premiere a new piece of choreography. With the help of a $100,000 grant from the state legislature, Ballet West has created a first-of-its-kind dance festival.

Adam Sklute, Artistic Director of Ballet West, said the idea came from the company’s “ Innovations” series when dancers had the opportunity to create original choreography. But this is new.

"I want this festival to become for dance, what the Sundance Film Festival is for film," he said.

For the next two weekends at the Eccles Theater, The Pennsylvania Ballet, the Sarasota Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet companies will join Ballet West in presenting new choreographic works.

Ballet West will premiere a piece, "Fox on the Doorstep," from its resident choreographer, Nicolo Fonte. Fonte said said "Fox on the Doorstep" is both very personal and deeply emotional.

While working in Aspen a few years ago, Fonte had an unforgettable experience.

“I opened the door and there’s a white fox there, and I look at it and it looks at me and runs away. Four hours later, I get a phone call that my father had passed away. And I am utterly convinced that that was him coming just to say ‘goodbye.'“

Modern ballet gives dancers new opportunities to stretch themselves physically and emotionally. The company hopes the festival will also attract new audiences. Sklute hopes his vision will come to fruition.

"Now, hopefully, in the late spring and summertime, they can hike the beautiful countryside of Utah and then come and see ballet in the evening, that's the plan."

Performances of the National Choreographic Festival take place at the Eccles Theatre in Salt Lake City on May 19-20 and May 26-27.

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Carole Mikita


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