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Ballet West Hopes Its First Choreographic Festival Will Become The “Sundance of Dance”

Courtesy Ballet West

This month, Ballet West is hosting its first ever choreography festival. It’s bringing in renowned ballet companies from around the country to share and showcase original choreography.

The festival will feature works by the Sarasota Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theater split over two weekends, May 19-20 and May 26-27. Host Ballet West will perform a world premiere each weekend.

Ballet West’s artistic director Adam Sklute says it will give Utah audiences a taste of the style and interpretations of other companies around the country.

“What you’re really getting is a sampler plate,” he says, comparing it to walking through a gallery, with different works by different artists.

“You’re not going to see a story,” Sklute says. “What you’re going to see is beautiful works of art, and how companies from around the country interpret different choreographers’ work.”

This weekend, Ballet West will perform the world premiere of a work from its resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte, called “Fox on the Doorstep.” 

“(Fonte) was working in Aspen, Colorado, and had seen a white fox on his doorstep that stared at him, and then it ran away. A few hours later he got word that his father had passed away,” Sklute explains. “It’s an amazingly profound and special work, one that our dancers are giving their hearts and souls to.”

Sklute says he’d like Utah to be the place that helps foster creative talent in dance.

“We already have the Sundance film festival,” he says. “I want to see this festival grow into a festival for dance like the Sundance Film Festival is a festival for film.

Utah lawmakers seem to appreciate his mission. This year the legislature gave Ballet West $100,000 to put on this year’s festival.

Sklute is already working on next year’s event, which he says will focus on female choreographers. 

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