SUU Dancers Continue Utah's Legacy of Dance with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Residency

Published: November 07, 2023 | Author: Kol Gibson | Read Time: 5 minutes

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company dancers on stage.

For the past two weeks, the Department of Theatre, Dance, & Arts Administration has hosted a residency with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. The residency will culminate in the performances of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company with SUU Dancers in two performances on Friday, November 10 at the Heritage Center Theater presented by Cedar City Music Arts. The first performance will be a matinee at 10:00 a.m. which is free for all Iron County School District students, SUU students, and faculty. The second will be at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for students and $30 for all other patrons. Tickets can be purchased at

When Cassidy Wilde was a senior in high school, they knew that they wanted to study modern dance because of a performance of Daniel Charon’s Storm by the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. They fell in love with modern dance under the direction of Jennifer Dail, but this performance paired with masterclasses taught by SUU faculty members Alexandra Bradshaw-Yerby and Nick Blaylock fueled their need to learn more about the art form. Little did they know that just a few short years later, they would be performing with the very group that fanned the flame of their passion, joining a decades-long legacy of dance in Utah.

Cassidy WildeCassidy is one of twelve Dance majors who will perform a piece choreographed by the Company’s Artistic Director, Daniel Charon, and SUU Assistant Professor of Dance, Alexandra Bradshaw-Yerby which is based on the idea of legacy. Through their hard work and dedication, Cassidy has come full circle in their dance journey, but this time, they get to be on stage, inspiring the next generation of dancers.

“I don’t know if I can even put this experience into words,” Cassidy says. “It has been exciting and enthralling, intense and wonderful all the way through. It is a dream come true to be able to learn from the Ririe-Woodbury dancers and observe them at work, especially in spaces here at SUU that feel like home.”

The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company was founded in 1964 by Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe, two Utah women who were dance professors at the University of Utah. In the nearly 60 years since its inception, the Company has become an internationally renowned contemporary dance company that performs around the globe. Co-founder Joan Woodbury, who passed away just last week, was an SUU alumna from Cedar City. Among her many dance and public service accolades, Joan received two honorary doctorates from SUU, as well as the 2014 Alumni Distinguished Service Award and the 1993 Outstanding Alumnus Award. The strong ties she forged between the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and Southern Utah University have created countless opportunities for SUU students to develop their talents and learn the necessary skills to have rewarding Dance careers.

Considering Joan’s history and that of so many people whose lives she has touched, it is fitting that Charon and Bradshaw-Yerby would create a piece to be performed in Cedar City, which serves as the crossroads for the legacies of Joan Woodbury, her Dance Company, and the students whose legacies are just beginning. 

“In approaching this process, we looked at the celebration of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s 60th Anniversary and the idea of legacy–both in terms of dance lineage as well as personal histories,” Daniel Charon explains. “The dancers have been unconditionally committed to the project and inspired its development with their strong work ethic and creative point of view. This work truly holds many histories in many different ways, which is expressed through a communal dance experience.”

SUU Dancers rehearse Legacy piece for Alexandra Bradshaw-Yerby and Daniel Charon.For Alexandra Bradshaw-Yerby, who danced with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company for six years, it has been a timely opportunity to collaborate with an esteemed mentor like Daniel Charon and see all of the different connections that exist between the Company, Joan Woodbury, and SUU.

“So much of Utah’s dance world converges here,” she explains. “Joan was a close friend of Emeritus SUU Professor of Dance, Kay Anderson, who was a long-time member of Nikolais Dance Theatre (NDT). NDT is closely affiliated with Ririe-Woodbury, and its founder Alwin Nikolais mentored Joan and Shirley Ririe as they started their Company. This legacy continues today as SUU graduates like Susannah Pilkington (‘23), who is the Company’s new Technical Director, come back to Cedar City to help stage our performance.”

The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company residency at SUU continues the expansive legacy that started with Joan Woodbury and her fellow pioneers of dance in Utah. Their influence, knowledge, and love for the art of movement live on and are invigorated through these significant collaborations.

“I come into every rehearsal giddy with excitement for what we’re about to make and I leave feeling fulfilled,” remarks Cassidy Wilde, a senior studying Dance Education. “The impact this Company has left on me is transformative, and I can only hope that this performance I get to be a part of can touch someone in a similar way.”

While the performances on Friday, November 10 at the Heritage Center are the first chances to see the fruits of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company/SUU residency, audiences can also take in this outstanding work at the SUU faculty-choreographed dance concert “Revolve” at the Randall L. Jones Theatre on December 7-9, 2023. Please join us in celebrating the legacy of dance in Utah at one of these performances. For more information about arts events at Southern Utah University, visit


About the College of Performing and Visual Arts

The College of Performing and Visual Arts (CPVA) at Southern Utah University comprises 41 academic programs including liberal arts (BA/BS) and professional (BFA, BM, BMEd) degrees in art, design, dance, filmmaking, music, and theatre. It includes graduate programs in the fields of arts administration (MFA, MA), music education (MME), and music technology (MM). More than 60 full-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring over 900 majors in the College. CPVA presents over 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year and is affiliated with the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Center for Shakespeare Studies. Southern Utah University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD), National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) making SUU the first public university in the state of Utah to be accredited by all four associations. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts, visit

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Kol Gibson