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SALT Contemporary Dance, a classically trained company with a persuasive artistic vision, premieres three contemporary works and revives an audience favorite April 28-29 at the Infinity Event Center in downtown Salt Lake.
SALT closes its fourth season with a loyal fan base and growing repertoire proportional to a larger arts organization with a longer history. The company seems to have hit the sweet spot in audience demographics, attracting an under-30 crowd and bridging the geographic divide between Utah County and Salt Lake City.
Artistic director Michelle Nielsen attributes the broad following to Utah's youth population "who are knowledgeable about dance and want to participate in this evolving art form."
The 10 contracted dancers and two apprentices who make up SALT keep their technique polished by consistently taking ballet class before rehearsal. It's an important element for the choreographers SALT wants to attract.
When choreographer Peter Chu came to set "Paper Cuts" in February, he was on a tight four-day schedule. Chu, who danced with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (now BJM Danse) and Crystal Pite's Kidd Pivot, is known for combining fine detail with large, surging movement. During a rehearsal at SALT's home base, The Pointe in Highland, Chu said he could work quickly due to the dancers' "strong technique, focus and work ethic."
SALT's pre-professional training company, SALT II, earns a spot on each program during the season. Last November at the Eccles Regent Street Theater "purple" box space, the second company gave a decisive performance of Jason Parsons' esoteric "Tracing the Steps You Left Behind." Next weekend, it will present "Chimera" by Lindsey Mathies.
Nielsen said she finds choreographers the way she fills seats, "word of mouth."
"Peter and Jermaine [Spivey] spoke with each other about the positive experience they had working here with our dancers, and word spreads quickly," Nielsen said. "I also go to Springboard in the summer to look for new talent."
Springboard Danse Montréal is a not-for-profit career development and job placement dance organization, whose primary purpose is bringing together emerging dancers and choreographers.
Nielsen met Spivey through Springboard, who danced with Culberg Ballet and Kidd Pivot. Nielsen describes Spivey's choreographic process as collaborative and discovery-based; his premiere "Something Else" shares choreographic credit with the dancers.
Also on this weekend's program is Ihsan Rustem's "Voice of Reason," an audience favorite that Nielsen said dancers were eager to perform again.
Never one to sit still for long, Nielsen said SALT's next project is "The Bridge," an evening-length work choreographed by Brendan Duggan, who along with Utah-native Mallory Rosenthal founded and directs the New York-based dance collective LoundHoundMovement. Fictionist, an alternative rock band from Provo that was a semifinalist in Rolling Stone Magazine's 2011 "Do You Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star?," created the soundscore for "The Bridge."
Worth their SALT
SALT Contemporary Dance presents three world premieres.
When • Friday and Saturday, April 28-29, 8 p.m.
Where • Infinity Event Center, 26 E. 600 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • universe.com/saltinconcert
Information • saltdance.com
VIP event • A pre-show event with drinks, appetizers and meet-and-greets with dancers is Saturday from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Tickets include premium performance seating.