SALT empowers the community with contemporary movement and dance
Dec 10, 2019 03:02PM
● By Drew Crawford
From left to right, Myles Woolstenhulme and Haley Johnson of SALT strike a pose from the production of “When I am Lost We Speak in Flowers.”
By Drew Crawford | [email protected]
Many artists are passionate about sharing their talent with the community and the SALT Dance Company is no exception.
As a nonprofit dance organization, SALT’s mission centers around performing contemporary dance and connecting the rising generation to dance through outreach and education about how the body moves.
At the beginning of November, the company performed “When I am Lost We Speak in Flowers,” at Regent Street Black Box at Eccles Theater with Joni McDonald directing the production.
The theme for the performance explored the idea of a couple being in a relationship with one being able bodied and the other disabled.
The dancers worked for months choreographing their movements and spent extensive time experimenting with the concept of physical deterioration and the loss of movement. They hoped to inspire the audience through exploring the beauty and hope that can be found in hardships.
Myles Woolstenhulme and Haley Johnson, two of SALT’s crew, have dedicated their lives to dancing and believe that their time with the organization has been the fulfillment of a dream.
To them contemporary dance presents an open forum of expression that represents a dialogue between the performers and the audience.
“If you paint a painting of your grandma’s cabin, it’s going to be important to you but nobody else; if you paint the feeling of your grandma’s cabin is going to be accessible to everyone because it’s going to mean something different to everyone,” Woolstenhulme explained, using this metaphor to describe the unlimited range of interpretation that the dance form offers.
Contemporary dance is different from other forms of dance because it focuses more on exploring abstract ideas than technical form. The performers dance with a willingness to suspend reality and imagine situations that are not happening.
“It gives us dancers more of a space to express our inner feelings. With technical modern dance you’re being told what to do,” Johnson said, noting that the form is more therapeutic than ballet.
“(Contemporary dance) is supposed to represent things that we are going through now both politically and socioeconomically,” Woolstenhulme said.
As a mission-based organization, SALT does much more than entertaining. When dancers aren’t busy performing, they work with young dancers in the community. They invite youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who are involved in studio work to spend a week perfecting their craft. The participants are standout dancers chosen from a group that participates in a production of “Pan.”
Older dancers can participate in networking opportunities available in their pre-pro program or audition for SALT II, the junior company.
Johnson’s favorite opportunity memory with SALT has been the opportunity that she has had to be the director of the creative escapes program. The program focuses on suicide prevention and teaches youth how to find hope in difficult situations through dance.
SALT Contemporary Dance is currently in its seventh season and has performed in various venues throughout the state including Kingsbury Hall and Sugar Space in South Salt Lake. The crew hosts a dance festival titled “Shape” every December.
This year the festival will be from Dec. 13-14 at Tanner Dance at the University of Utah.