When Charlotte Boye-Christensen retired in April after a decade as the artistic leader of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, she didn't so much step down as across taking the reins of a new interdisciplinary dance and arts company called NOW ID.
Boye-Christensen and her co-director, Salt Lake City architect Nathan Webster, founded the company to foster collaboration and cooperation among artists of all genres. NOW's first performance brings together composers from Denmark, dancers from the Joffrey Ballet and Ballet West, performers from New York, and visual artists from Salt Lake City.
Titled "The Wedding," the performance will take place in the rotunda theater in Salt Lake City's historic Masonic Temple. It is no coincidence that Boye-Christensen and Webster's actual marriage ceremony will take place the day before in the Masonic Temple's Egyptian Room.
"We sometimes get the two events crossed in our minds," Boye-Christensen said with a laugh, "so we refer to one as our 'actual wedding' and we've had to keep that one very simple since the performance is so overwhelming."
All public ceremonies have an element of performance, and the NOW co-directors describe their wedding experience as an "exploration of the most public of private rituals."
"Similar to performances, weddings are typically a development of the whole weekend with guests who acknowledge and witness the event as part of their experience. So we're experimenting with having the actual groomsmen and other guests as participants in the performance we'll see if that works out," Webster said.
At first it was suggested that the ceremony take place during the theatrical performance, but as the line between private and public became clearer, the idea was dropped.
"The intimate sacredness of what it means to be married had to be honored," Boye-Christensen said. "And of course fundraising for your wedding would be rather ridiculous."
New company • NOW ID's board of directors is made up of successful artist entrepreneurs whose meetings more closely resemble a creative think tank than a stuffy boardroom. They raised $35,000 in just three weeks on Kickstarter, received $10,000 from the Danish National Foundation to fund Danish composer Jens Hørsving's score, and each member contributes his or her artistic expertise to the company.
Board member Jesse Walker designed NOW ID's logo, and his long association with Boye-Christensen includes DJ, graphics and audio-video support on past projects. His blog, New City Movement, is a guide to all things hip in Salt Lake that typically fly under the radar. The high number of hits indicates that readers trust his instincts, which translates to free advertising for NOW.
"There is so much collective experience on this board," Walker said, "that proposing something on a grand scale like 'The Wedding' is not daunting it's just what we do."
In Boye-Christensen's home country of Denmark, most couples no longer legally marry, so she never spent hours poring over Brides magazine or composing wedding vows. Instead, her daydreams were about the perfect cast of dancers in the ideal company.
"There was no audition for 'The Wedding,' " Boye-Christensen. "These are four seasoned performers who've had a major influence on my creative development."
Members of the hand-picked cast are Ballet West principal Katherine Lawrence, Joffrey Ballet dancer Yumelia Garcia, New York-based dancer Ted Johnson (recently in the acclaimed theatrical work "Sleep No More") and retired Ririe-Woodbury dancer Joseph Blake.
Lawrence worked with Boye-Christensen in 2010 when the latter was a guest choreographer for Ballet West's "Innovations." Although Boye-Christensen's choreographic style is based in ballet technique, Lawrence said it is challenging and extremely physical in a different way than classical ballet. "I'm learning how to be more grounded and explore news ways of moving. I can throw myself into this movement and not be afraid."
Lawrence said she is excited to perform away from a proscenium stage. "Entering the Masonic Temple sets the tone for the evening even approaching the building sets the tone for the performance."
Upcoming shows • Each project by NOW will be conceptually distinct from the last and performed in a different location. The performance slated for early next year is a new take on "Faust," in a location yet to be determined. This version of Goethe's tragic epic will blend dance, theater, puppetry, video and music. It will be produced by NOW ID and Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory.
Webster said each new site functions as a contributor to the project. "The thing about SLC's architectural fabric is that there are not a lot of public buildings that one gets to access and to pass through as part of your daily life. The Masonic Temple is a grand space with a history and a presence powerful enough that when people engage with it, they start creating their own story around it."
Boye-Christensen and Webster envision bringing together composers, dancers, other performers and artists from Salt Lake, the nation and the world to form a unique and ever-changing perspective to performance on the Wasatch Front.
"We are not looking to build a repertoire," Boye-Christensen said. "When the performance is done, it's done. We want to bring eyes and talents of the world to Salt Lake City, and a Salt Lake City perspective to the world."
Salt Lake City's newest dance and arts company, NOW ID, debuts with performances of "The Wedding." It brings together composers, dancers and visual artists.
When • Friday and Saturday, July 26-27, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Masonic Temple, 650 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • Adults $30, students/seniors $15; now-id.com