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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Morrison, Jack
The dancer: [institutionalizing dance],   pp. 262-265 PDF (4.4 MB)

Page 262

by Jack Morrison
Associate Director, Arts in Education Program,
The JDR 3rd Fund.
(The editors of Arts in Society wanted an
article on institutionalizing dance, its effect
and consequences. In discussing this intrigu-
ing problem with Shirley Ririe, Co-Director
with Joan Woodbury of the Ririe-Woodbury
Dance Company based in Salt Lake City, I
began to explore what we thought "institu-
tionalizing" was as it came about over the
last twenty years or so with the Ririe-Wood-
bury Company. A dialogue began to emerge,
and the following is a somewhat edited inter-
view with Shirley Ririe.
The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company tours
nationally throughout the year primarily for
the Dance Touring Program and the Artists-in-
the Schools Program of the National Endow-
ment for the Arts. In the last two years they
have established residencies and given per-
formances in twenty-two states and sixty-six
Jack Morrison: You and Joan were teaching
at the University of Utah when you decided to
create-institutionalize if you will-your Com-
pany. Why did you start the Company?
Shirley Ririe: We didn't start a company.
It happened. Many students at the University
of Utah don't move away when they graduate.
They stuck around in the community and
wanted to dance. We wanted to work with
them because Joan and I liked to work
together. The alumni, naturally, had experi-
ence and technical skills which allowed us to
do more advanced choreography with greater
demands on the dancers. It was just common
sense. We didn't back into it. It was more
like taking advantage of opportunities.
One thing led to another.
During the 50's we joined with others to form
"Choreodancers" which functioned as a non-
professional company. Then in the mid-60's
Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis encouraged
us to begin thinking seriously about forming
a professional company. I think it was their
faith and prodding which gave us the courage
to "think big".
Jack Morrison: Wasn't there enough to do at
the University with teaching, choreographing
and concertizing on the Campus?
Shirley Ririe: Of course. There still is and it's
exciting work. I guess Joan and I are born
teachers and we love it. The University is oul
artistic and professional base, a part of us.
But professionally we continued to grow.

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