Ririe-Woodbury celebrates 45 years of dance

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The New York Times called Ririe-Woodbury's recent tour to the city "one of the ten best dance events of the year." We talked with the founders, who are preparing to celebrate their company's 45th anniversary.

"Dance is for everybody" was and is their motto; the extraordinary partnership of Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury took movement into classrooms throughout Utah and onto stages around the country and the world.

"We started really slowly. The first year, I think we made $1,000. No, no, $424, something like that, and we paid everybody except ourselves," Woodbury said.

There is no secret to success, they say, just hiring the best dancers and balancing each other.

"We had our children every other year or so. We didn't plan it, but it happened that way; and when one was up the other was down. If one was busy with something, then the other one would take over," Ririe said.

Many of their former dancers have returned to rehearse for a performance to celebrate the company's upcoming anniversary.

"I learned so much, not just about dance, but about life," said Phyllis Haskell Tims, 1971 alumnus.

Robin Johnson, alumnus from 1974-1980, said, "A lot of those ideas and influences are still inside me."

"I hold them in the utmost respect for what they have been able to accomplish," said John Allen, 2000-2002 alumnus.

"No matter what happens, we're gonna survive. And we just kind of go through it and make it work with a really positive attitude. How we've done it really is we've reinvented ourselves over and over and over," Woodbury said.

Their vision and legacy, goes on, they believe, into the next century.

Ririe-Woodbury alums will perform Thursday night, followed by the company. Performances will continue on April 24 and April 25 at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita


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