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SBDance presents a one-night spectacle of rock, opera and dance

Published June 9, 2013 11:08 pm

Preview • Complex movements animate SB Dance production 'Of Meat and Marrow."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The latest rock opera dance circus from SB Dance, "Of Meat and Marrow" is subtitled "Bigger, Badder, Bonier."

Bigger, because it's presented in the 500-seat Jeanne Wagner Theatre, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Badder, because there will be live music by the rock band Totem & Taboo.

And bonier, because director of the company Stephen Brown says there is more humor and morbid fun than ever.

On Saturday, The Salt Lake company — which presents original works of dance and theater — will unveil a new version of a performance they've been releasing in small bits for two years.

During a recent rehearsal, the show resembled a wonderful, slightly flummoxing circus. Phrases are thrown about by Brown such as: "Sorry babies, let's do some body slamming." "Keep the candlestick but try not to pike in the waist." And "We're just adding more vomit."

The company members, sometimes joined by Brown, are mastering the use of a jack, with six steel prongs around eight feet long. The dancers roll it around, swing and climb on it and drop to the floor under it, sometimes looking precariously close to colliding.

"The upcoming show is about 90 percent new and sections from the past have been scaled up and transformed," Brown said. "It used to be a dance theater piece. Now, it's a rock opera dance circus spectacle."

He adds that there are plenty of thrilling elements. "The space accommodates cool theatrical whiz bang and large scale objects —14 foot steel sculptures and 3,000 feet of Mylar," he said. "The live rock band is practically located in the audience's lap. I've got a dream team on design- they make this show into a visual, audio, and kinetic stunner."

The performance involves insanely complex movement, but Brown says the company is perfectly safe, because they devise the moves.

"We're building these impossible, risky things on ourselves. They arise organically- I'll usually get a big grin on my face, lift my eyebrows, and look at someone — often [dancer] Nathan Shaw and say, 'I wonder what would happen if...' Then we figure it out- deconstruct, analyze, reconstruct- until we have an amazing lift or fall."Brown said if he asked one of his dancers to do a triple pirouette, "they'd tell me to stuff it. If I asked them to dive across a table, roll onto someone's back, and then crash to the floor, he or she would probably suggest a crazier variation."

The dancers also say there is an exciting smorgasbord of elements that make this show fresh.

"It is such an eclectic and eccentric mix of people," said Shaw, who is an instructor and choreographer at Judge Memorial Catholic High School and previously danced with Repertory Dance Theatre. "Each cast member brings something totally different to the table."

Juan Carlos Claudio, an assistant professor/lecturer at the University of Utah Department of Modern Dance, who danced with Ririe Woodbury for ten years, said SBDance is the ideal company for this stage of his performing career. "This group of mature dancers provides such a creative, exciting and inventive approach to dance like no other," he said. "The relationship between the dancers is one of wild camaraderie, we feel completely safe with each other, we are brutally honest yet respectful. There is a sense of play as we create. We understand each other and each other's movement in ways that may seem unusual to other companies. We push each other to the maximum of our creative juices."

Dancer Jenny Larsen has been a fitness teacher for nearly 19 years, is a former medal-winning fitness competitor, and has been performing with SB for six years. She said she can't give away all the secrets of the show but added that SB audiences know to expect the unexpected. "They know they are going to be surprised and the envelope is going to be pushed a little further," she said. "That's why they keep coming back for more."

Indeed, Brown said last week that advance ticket sales have been so brisk that less than 60 seats remain for the one-night show.

She said the show is a fusion of several art forms. "Stephen Brown is a mad scientist when it comes to the crazy use of props. And no time to blink, people. This is a fast and furious show."

The band that is playing for the performance, Totem & Taboo, is as eclectic as the company. Guitarist Brian Kubarycz said they combine elements of hard rock, indie, jazz, bossa nova, techno, and funk. They first partnered with SB last summer.

Kubarycz said that the band loves playing to a theater audience which is seated and paying close attention to everything. "The margin of error is narrower and the stakes become much higher," he said. "Further, collaborating with dancers is far more complicated, scary and exciting than playing a conventional gig, because, suddenly, there are so many constantly shifting variables."

He said the band must be entirely alert and aware, "not just of each other, but also of the stage, the dancers, the props, and the audience."

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'Of Meat and Marrow: Next Generation'

When • Saturday, June 15 at 8 p.m.

Where • Jeanne Wagner Theatre at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

Ticket • $20; 801-355-ARTS or arttix.org. Less than 60 seats remain.

Online • sbdance.com