Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Eldon Johnson is a featured dancer in "Shut Up and Dance." Performances begin Wednesday at the University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall.

Odyssey Dance Theatre is trying some new things but keeping track of the old.

The company will premiere four works in the upcoming "Shut Up and Dance" performances. But it will also revive three older pieces, of which one — The Beatles-inspired "Let It Be" — was suppose to be retired last year.

"I can't get away from 'Let It Be,"' said artistic director Derryl Yeager after rehearsals last week. "I mean, the whole Cirque du Soleil's Beatles' 'Love' premiered, and I thought to myself that we couldn't compete with a million-dollar budget. So, I decided to retire 'Let It Be.' But I got so many complaints. And then I saw 'Love' and realized that its approach was different than what we were doing. They interpreted the songs differently and focused on the psychedelic. So, 'Let It Be' is back by popular demand."

"Let It Be" will run during the "Shut Up and Dance" performances Thursday night, Saturday afternoon, the evenings of March 25 and March 28.

Still, the world premieres are what really excite Yeager.

Dee Caspary's "Monsieur Loyal" is a departure for the Odyssey dancers. Caspary created an earlier work, "Collide," for Odyssey, and Yeager liked what he saw.

"So, I called him to do another one," Yeager said. "He has a unique style and an ability to create movement. It's funny because he usually creates short dance-competition works, but the two he's done for us are a good length."

"Monsieur Loyal" features longtime Odyssey dancer Eldon Johnson as the main character. And the other dancers become his slaves and vice versa.

"There are a lot of meanings you can dip into with this work," Yeager said. "And I'm looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts."

Johnson said the work is an intense and meticulous piece of movement, but there is room for adjustments.

"Dee has his ideas and we have been able to get what is inside of his head onto the dance floor," Johnson said during rehearsals last month. "But he is open to our suggestions and lets us put our own personalities into it."

"Monsieur Loyal" will be performed during the "Club Calloway" performances of "Shut Up and Dance" Thursday night, Saturday night and the night of March 26 and the afternoon of March 29.

The other premieres, Trey Barber's "The Factory," "Tiffany Carpenter's "Heartland" and a collaborative work called "Degrees of Separation," choreographed by Yeager, Johnson, Emmy Award winning choreography Bonnie Story and Christian Denice, will be seen during the "Moulin Rouge" performances Friday night, the evenings of March 24, March 27 and March 29.

"The Factory" is kind of like the movie version of "I, Robot," Yeager said. "It takes place in a factory that builds hip-hop dancers. The dancers do their thing and then they are discarded. But one dancer shakes off the restraints and starts to think and leads a rebellion of dancing."

Selected audience members will get a chance to dance with the hip-hoppers during a twist in the plot, Yeager said. "It will be fun to see how the audience reacts to this one, too."

"'Heartland' gets into the roots of America," Yeager said. "It's done to bluegrass and folk music, and there are a lot of spiritual references in that type of music. The dancing captures the essence, the period and setting of the early America."

"Degrees of Separation" is a study on different elements of disenfranchisement in relationships.

"There are four storylines that deal with issues in those relationships," Yeager said. "There is death, abuse and work that takes people away from each other. My part of the piece is the humor relief. But it still examines an issue that does come between some couples — video games.

"It's fun to see the company rise up to the occasion and perform different dance styles well," Yeager said. "I mean we go from 'The Factory' to 'Monsieur Loyal' and 'Heartland' without hesitation. To see a company accomplish that is what being an artistic director is all about."

If you go ...

What: Shut Up and Dance, Odyssey Dance Theatre

Where: Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah

When: Wednesday through March 29, 8 p.m.; 2 p.m. Saturday

How much: $15-$35

Phone: 581-7100


E-mail: [email protected]