“The Wedding,” a 60-minute dance-theater piece directed by choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen and produced by her debut company NOW ID, seemed not to be about the ritual of marriage as advertised but rather about change and contrast. One performer stalks the stage in long deliberate strides, turning back in search of something. Another dancer slowly extends her leg high above her head in a technical display, while her partner unaffectedly spirals his body to the floor.
In a style that looks and feels like the New York downtown dance scene, “The Wedding” is an evening-length work in a nontraditional setting, with D.J.-mixed music and a single theme. The mood shifts between deadly serious and playful as when the groomsmen from Boye-Christensen’s actual wedding the previous day awkwardly swarm the stage. The nondancers enter after a beautiful, weighted duet between dancers Katherine Lawrence Orlowski and Jo Blake. The groomsmen portray the genuine discomfort real-life participants often display when shifting their stance at the altar.
Real weddings are choreographed and rehearsed for a specific group of invited guests. Similarly, “The Wedding’s” magical staging was perhaps its most intriguing part. Entering the historic Masonic Temple on a sweltering evening in Salt Lake City surrounded by patrons with infants in arms and friends greeting one another in unfamiliar languages suggested a different voyage awaited.
Lighting by James K. Larsen and sound score by Jesse Walker established a world that fell somewhere between cathedral and nightclub once inside the theater. And the short 60-minute length of the program broke the rules and conventions of dance performance tradition.
Most audience members either have attended a wedding or have been married and bring a personal experience to this replication. My seat mate was recently married and the activity on the main stage seemed relevant to her present turbulent life. I have been married for 33 years and kept waiting for the dancer-couple to move up onto the “living room” set of furniture on the elevated back stage to start living their life.
Within the collage of vignettes, actor-dancer Ted Johnson moved with a fascinating sense of timing and informed phrasing. And Lawrence’s performance found that rarely discovered opening where choreography and technique disappear into the other and the audience experiences dancing purely as a human story.
The problem in this particular wedding performance is that although each performer was impressive individually, none of them seemed to have any real connection to the other. And until the end where the traditional wedding march music and formation builds, the intended subject of a public-private ritual was not apparent.
Boye-Christensen has gone out on a limb to do something very uncontrolled and new to Salt Lake City with this first attempt by NOW ID. And although it was less than perfect the components are in place for the next step.
Review: NOW ID’s ‘The Wedding’
P NOW ID’s debut performance offers audiences a new look at dance and the traditions of dance companies.
When • reviewed Friday
Where • Masonic Temple, 650 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Running time • One hour