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Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company kicks off 60th anniversary season with retrospective show

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company marks its 60th anniversary with a retrospective season opener.

“GROUNDWORKS” is a celebration of dance that pays homage to the company’s visionary co-founders, Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury.

Part of the show is the aptly named “Then and Now,” a tribute that will showcase the artistry of today’s talented dancers, who will bring to life reconstructed excerpts of over 200 productions from RWDC’s extensive repertoire, complemented by archival footage of the original performers. Included are Joan Woodbury’s whimsical “L’ invasion” (1991) and Shirley Ririe’s uplifting “Banners of Freedom” (1990).

GROUNDWORKS will also pay homage to Alwin Nikolais, renowned as the father of multimedia in dance, bringing his work to the stage after a hiatus since 2016. Nikolais’ choreography played a pivotal role in the formation of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company with his artistic philosophies and spirit of experimentation.

“Alwin Nikolais’ choreography gives our contemporary repertory an important historical context,” said Daniel Charon, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s artistic director. “It represents an integral chapter in the evolution of modern dance where Nikolais was creating breathtaking, groundbreaking, never-been done before work. He was the first choreographer to fuse dance with a variety of innovative multimedia elements as a means to create a unique theatrical experience. These visually stunning explorations still inspire today’s choreographers. Nikolais remains an inspiration whose sense of exploration and curiosity continually reminds us of the power of the imagination and our ability to innovate.”

The tribute to Nikolais includes his iconic piece “Liturgies” (1983), which explores themes of faith and fervor through a mesmerizing blend of lighting, projections, music, costumes, and movement.

Charon brings his own creation “On Being” (2021) to the stage, taking audiences on a profound journey of healing and introspection. This elegant piece reflects the interconnectedness of the community, a theme that resonates deeply after a year of social distancing.

The show takes place at the Jeanne Wagner Theater in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center on September 21, 22, and 23. For more information and tickets, visit www.ririewoodbury.com.

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