The artists, staff and trustees of Ballet West will honor Willam F. Christensen at a reception for friends and invited guests, following Wednesday's opening-night performance of "The Nutcracker." The audience will be treated to refreshments in the lobby of the Capitol Theater.
Gov. Norm Bangerter and Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis have declared Wednesday Willam Christensen Day. "`The Nutcracker' has touched the lives of thousands of Utahns since Willam Christensen introduced it here 34 years ago," Bangerter stated. "Moreover, Willam Christensen and Ballet West have served to promote the culture of Utah on a national scale."One of the dancing Christensen brothers, Willam is recognized as one of the leading pioneers in American dance. He had a career in vaudeville before establishing the San Francisco Ballet in 1937 - now the oldest continuously functioning company in the country. His many firsts include the first full-length American versions of "The Nutcracker," "Coppelia" and "Cinderella."
Founder and first artistic of director Ballet West, Christensen is now a director emeritus of San Francisco Ballet and artistic advisor to the Ballet West board of directors. His many awards include Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce Honors in the Arts, the Bay Area Hall of Fame award from the San Francisco Dance Coalition and induction into the Beehive Hall of Fame. Mr. C. continues to teach young dancers at his studio in Murray.
- DON GOMES will be the new executive director of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, replacing Art Waber, who is now in Durham, N.C., as assistant director for programming and special projects for the American Dance Festival.
A native of California, Gomes has been in Utah for 12 years. He completed an M.A. in theater direction at the University of Utah in 1980, and ran the Park City Arts Festival for the next two years. He also worked with the Kimball Art Center, and in 1981 incorporated Park City Performances and supervised renovation of the Egyptian Theater. Since 1984, Gomes has been working as a savings and loan executive.
According to co-artistic director Shirley Ririe, "Don's wide experience in managing three arts organizations, as well as responsible positions in the banking world, should give him an excellent foundation for his future work with Ririe-Woodbury." Gomes hopes to explore new funding possibilities, develop the executive board and coordinate marketing for the company's educational video project.