Ririe-Woodbury’s new dance production asks audiences to think about ‘who you are as a person’

Identity is the common thread of three works to be performed in the production “Fill in the Blank.”

(Stuart Ruckman | Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.) Fausto Rivera, left, and Nicholas Jurica dance to choreographer Andrea Miller's "I Can See Myself in Your Pupil."

If there’s a through-line among the works in “Fill in the Blank,” the new program by Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, it’s “individual identity, and figuring out who you are as a person and how you exist in this world,” said Daniel Charon, the company’s artistic director.

The show — running Thursday through Sunday in the Regent Street Black Box, adjacent to Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater — consists of three works: “coincidences, when we meet up,” a new work by choreographer jo Blake; “I Can See Myself In Your Pupil,” an older work by Andrea Miller; and Stefanie Batten Bland’s “Look Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

Charon describes the new work by Blake as “really about finding acceptance in who you are.”

Blake, who uses he/they pronouns, said, “my work lately has been about connecting two social issues: One being a marginalized man of color, a homosexual man, an individual that has kind of dealt with barriers not only within the social communities, but also in the dance community. And I was really interested in creating a work that was genderless.”

It’s not a traditional dance, in the sense that only men lift and women dance — and the dancers have more of an influence on the actual structure of the piece.

Trevor Price — a Salt Lake City composer, producer and engineer whom Blake has worked with before — scored the work, which includes text written by the dancers. “They will have a voice not only on the stage, but in the score,” Blake said.

The dancers also have a say in the choreography. “Within it, there is no timing, so that they can play with their own maneuvering in and out of these relationships that they’ve created with one another. At times, they will whisper and share with one another.”

Blake said they’re trying to explore the influence of movement on a relationship. “Dance movement has been forever and has been a way to communicate, and so I’ve always found when I perform and when I share choreography, it’s that connecting point.”

Bland’s piece, “Look Who’s Coming to Dinner,” is inspired by the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, in which a liberal couple — played by Katharine Hepburn and, in his final role, Spencer Tracy — find out their grown daughter (Katherine Houghton) is engaged to marry a doctor, who is Black (and played by Sidney Poitier).

Bland’s work, Charon said, “really has to do [with] having a seat at the table, having a voice, being able to express yourself, believe in what you’re expressing, and having people hear that and listen.

Miller, who choreographed “I Can See Myself in Your Pupil,” is a Salt Lake City native who has her own dance company in Brooklyn, called Gallim. Charon said the work is “more about people trying to discover their own way of communicating and their own vocabulary.”

Charon acknowledged that dance is sometimes the hardest medium to use to communicate — because it’s not as visually direct as music, film or the written word.

“One of the big challenges for people, when they see dance is … that [it] doesn’t have a definable narrative,” Charon said. “They come in and they want to try to figure it out. And when they can’t figure it out, they get frustrated and they’re like, ‘I don’t understand.’ … What dance does well [is] it express[es] things that are really difficult to express through words.”


‘Fill in the Blank’ at Regent Street

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s production, “Fill in the Blank.”

Where • Regent Street Black Box, 131 Main St., Salt Lake City.

Showtimes • Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 27-29, 7:30 p.m.; a Moving Parts Family and Sensory Friendly showing is Saturday, Jan. 29, starting at 1 p.m.

Tickets • Available online, at arttix.org. Live-stream and on-demand options are available.