In 2008, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company artistic director Charlotte Boye-Christensen was in her native Copenhagen on a residency when she was approached by composer Jens Horsving of the internationally renowned Figura music ensemble.
"Jens asked if I was interested in doing something," Boye-Christensen said during a break in rehearsals at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.
"We initially thought about doing something with the New Danish Dance Theatre in Copenhagen, but I thought it would be interesting to have the group come over here and expose Salt Lake City to this music."
Horsving wanted to do a collaboration about gravity, Boye-Christensen said.
"Initially I thought it's just a concept we take for granted. I thought as dancers and choreographers that it would be a little ridiculous to work with, because it seems so fundamental and basic. There has to be a conceptual basis or it has to be some kind of psychosis involved for me to start working."
Still, the idea intrigued her enough that she began talking to people about gravity.
"What does it mean — depth, paralysis?" she said. "Then I found you can tie it in to some kind of psychological state and that moved on to relationships, the gravity of a situation or death.
"There are so many other things to pull from that," she said. "For me this piece is so much about push and pull. That's what gravity is. It's pulling toward the Earth or pushing down toward the Earth."
Boye-Christensen said she realized the work is "a formalistic piece and very much based around relationships."
"I mean how can it not be?"
The work, which is called "Gravity," will consist of six sections and will run about 18 minutes long.
In addition to the dancers, Figura will perform live on stage during the work. And with that added element, there come challenges, she said.
"With live musicians on stage (the piece) is going to change dynamically, radically," Boye-Christensen said. "Having live musicians on stage is a wonderful addition, but working with live music can be a nightmare. You have to stick to the original composition because if we start changing it too much, we're ruined."
RWDC originally submitted a grant to bring Figura to Salt Lake City, said Boye-Christensen. "Unfortunately the grant didn't go through.
"Fortunately they are so well known in Copenhagen that they got the money covered in no time. The Danish government, the music union and the National Foundation for the Arts covered all of their fees and travel expenses.
"All we're doing is covering their living expenses and housing. That's a huge coup because they are a well-recognized music ensemble that are known for their theatrical productions."
In addition to the new work, the company is performing Boye-Christensen's "Stirrings," "Interiors" and "Turf."
Bringing back past works is another challenge for RWDC's artistic director.
"I always want to change things," she said. "I don't want to see things I've done a long time ago. It feels bizarre to see it again. But I like 'Stirrings' because it's really striven and the music is brilliant. It was choreographed in a specific manner that creates a strong dynamic expression that stands the test of time.
"I am taking two sections out of 'Interiors,' which works much better because I always felt the first version was one too long.
"And since we're performing in the Black Box Theatre, we decided to do 'Turf' again. It's a piece that will look right in the space.
If you go...
What: "Gravity," Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South
When: Dec. 17-19, 7:30 p.m.; also Dec. 19, 2 p.m.
How much: $30
Phone: 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787
e-mail: [email protected]