Ravell Call, Deseret News
TJ Spaur, left, with Ai Fujii Nelson, Jo Blake, center, with Betsy Kelley and Caine Keenan with Lehua Brown of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company rehearse "Night Story" by novelist Della Davidson. Performances will be this week at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City.

Back in the fall of 1996, the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company world-premiered Della Davidson's "Night Story."

The work, based on Bay Area novelist Isabelle Allende's short story "Wicked Girl," tells of a preadolescent girl's experiences while being raised in her mother's boarding house.

"The company has done the work since it premiered," said Davidson speaking from Davis, Calif. "But since I first did it for Ririe-Woodbury, I have done three different versions of the piece."

However, Davidson, choreographer for the dance department at University of California-Davis, said the rendering of "Night Story" that Ririe-Woodbury will perforrm is the original version. In addition to "Night Story," the company will present New York choreographer Doug Varone's aggressive 1994 work "Smashed Landscapes" and Ririe-Woodbury associate artistic director Charlotte Boye-Christensen's "Anatomies," which premiered in 2006.

"That work was the jumping-off point of those other projects," she said. "It will be interesting to go back to the original after 10-plus years. I'm excited to see it and work on it again."

"Night Story" was a first for Davidson insomuch that the work moves with spoken narration and the dancers actually speak Spanish on stage. But that was important, because Allende's writings are so emotive, Davidson said.

"They are so full of images that they evoked my own memories," she said. "And they are so focused in the reality that they become a sort of exaggerated pieces of life. That's what I love. And the characters become bigger and more intense."

The story, Davidson said, is about how differences of views and passions shape our lives.

"There is a lot of cultural issues that are addressed in the story as well," Davidson said.

When Davidson first did the piece 12 years ago, immigration was a hot topic in California. Today, it's a major issue throughout the country.

"I don't think the work is really political," she said. "But there is the beauty of language and culture that people need to look at and be aware of."

And throughout the years, Allende has received Davidson's interpretation of the story with open arms.

"I think one of the residual highlights of doing 'Night Story' was meeting Isabelle in San Francisco," Davidson said. "She is a really beautiful, generous and brilliant person. We immediately felt a connection to each other."

If you go . . .

What: Rewind, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company

Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South

When: Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $30

Phone: 355-2787, 888-451-2787

Web: www.arttix.org

E-mail: [email protected]