Dance companies want to invite young professionals to the party

Published August 20, 2006 12:00 am
Studio D program offers ticket discounts and social events
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Following the lead of Utah Symphony & Opera's successful Vivace program, Salt Lake City's dance companies are reaching out to young professionals with ticket discounts and social activities surrounding ballet and modern-dance performances.

Ballet West, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and Repertory Dance Theatre - the city's three largest dance companies - are working together on the project, called Studio D.

They hope it will bring in new audience members and educate younger people about dance. Organizer Melissa Rasmussen, who helped found Vivace before coming to Ballet West, says attending performances will help the patrons, too. "There's a need for community, and the need to get together and do something other than the usual mind-numbing stuff," she said, adding that getting involved in the arts also grants health and social benefits.

The program targets young professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s - a group she says wants to experience the arts but doesn't. That's partly due to financial constraints, since a lot of recent college graduates don't have a lot of money. So ticket discounts are a big draw.

Along with discounts, the companies will set up post-performance "after-parties," where members can mingle with each other and some of the performers. A restaurant or club will host each party, offering discounts to Studio D members. Rasmussen hopes to offer a different venue for each show. Dancers will be invited, which she says works out well since they are part of the same demographic. She hopes for a diverse crowd encompassing singles, couples and friends of all backgrounds.

Vivace offers similar enticements to get young adults to Utah Symphony & Opera performances. Rasmussen and Vivace coordinator Crystal Young-Otterstrom say the programs should help each other. "Vivace's success is because of our collaborations with similar groups," Young-Otterstrom said. "We look forward to working with Studio D. Having a dance group geared toward people our age is exactly what this city needs."

This is the first time the three dance groups have joined forces on anything: "We wanted to be able to offer dance in all its forms," from classical to cutting-edge, Rasmussen said.

The first Studio D event will be Ririe-Woodbury's "Tent" on Sept. 23 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Studio D will give its members access to all regular performances by the three dance groups, plus a special "Wild Card" show. Members can go to as few or as many shows as they want; no advance ticket purchases are required.

Most arts organizations struggle to lure younger audiences in the face of competition from other entertainment options and patrons' busy schedules. "One of our goals is to build audiences of tomorrow, and one of the best ways to do that is through education, both in the schools and in this age group," Rasmussen said.

Despite the suggested age range, she emphasizes Studio D is about a state of mind more than anything. "We never ask anyone their age," she said.

To join the Studio D mailing list, e-mail Melissa Rasmussen at mrasmussen@balletwest.org. Call her at 801-323-6966 for information.

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