When Graham Brown, co-founder of Salt Lake’s dance improvisation company Movement Forum, left town in 2010 to pursue a master’s degree in dance at the University of Maryland, few would have guessed his return three years later would be as an assistant professor of dance at Brigham Young University. Perhaps more surprising is that his hire puts BYU in the spotlight as a cultural innovator with Brown’s evening-length work titled “You.”
Brown is auditioning professional dancers to lead the student-driven work, now in its third incarnation, which tells the story of a day in the life of a family. The pop music score of “You” will be replaced by an original composition. And this time around, Brown said he is shooting for “a clearer distinction of the characters and a more coherent narrative.”
During Brown’s education in Maryland, his interests shifted from dance improvisation to structured dance theater. His evolving style uses theatrical tools such as storyboarding (graphic visualization used by directors and playwrights), costume and set designers, and a dramaturg to clarify scenes. He even took a playwriting class while working on the narrative for “You.”
“I wanted to raise my family in Utah, where I grew up dancing beginning in my mother’s basement studio,” Brown said. “When the BYU position came up, I felt the experience I gained on the East Coast would be reciprocally beneficial. Much of the new work that Utah audiences see from nationally recognized innovative choreographers is set on local companies by those choreographers rather than on his or her own company. So the perspective by local audiences of developing choreographers’ work is different than audiences in major dance centers. But I did want to work here in Utah because the pool of talent is exceptional.”
Patrik Widrig, co-founder of the nationally acclaimed PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, a company Brown has danced with for 10 years now, said he believes what “propelled Graham to develop from a spontaneously spectacular improviser into a splendidly specific choreographer seems to have been a conscious choice upon entering grad school in 2010. He excelled at it from the get-go and was incredibly prolific.”
Read the remainder of the article in the Salt Lake Tribune.