Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit backstage during one of the city's top theater production, concert or dance performances? Salt Lake magazine arts contributor Jennifer Hickman did just that last week, and gave us an inside look at Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company's Kaleidoscope.

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company performed Kaleidoscope, a show made up of works by Alwin Nikolais. I watched the show on Friday night from my seat in row G of the Capitol Theatre, and loved all the bright colors, the whimsical feel of “Clothes,” the intricacies of “Tensile” and the eerie feel of “Gallery” that made me feel like I was in a haunted house and at a carnival all at the same time.

Backstage on Saturday afternoon, however, was a totally different and unique experience. I walked in to what appeared at first to be a massive disarray of costumes and props spread all around the floor (and if you have seen a Nikolais show before, you know there is a vast array of costumes and props). I thought to myself, “How on earth are they going to find anything in the dark, in the middle of the show?” As the show began and the first costume change was upon us, I quickly realized that every last piece of costume and each prop was placed in a very precise manner ready for each dancer as they came off the stage, quickly changed and went right back out. The whole production functioned like a very well-oiled machine.

The view from the side of the stage created a whole different perspective. I almost felt like I was a part of the performance. I expected to feel more disconnected, because I was seeing everything from the side or back, but instead I felt engaged. When you are backstage, there are no breaks or pauses in the show… dancers are constantly stretching, changing costumes, counting out the beats of the current piece so that they can keep track of their ques. It’s one big, long work of art. Most people don’t get the opportunity to see a show from backstage, but if you ever do… I highly encourage you to take advantage of it!

There are two cool groups in town that offer a similar experience to the one above. While they don't allow backstage access, they do give you the opportunity to interact with the artists on a more personal level at afterparties with the cast and crew. They are Vivace and Studio D. Both groups are free to join and both host free after-parties following various shows—a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests. These groups are open to anyone in their 20s, 30s or 40s and to those that are single, partnered, married, etc.



Vivace is associated with the Utah Symphony Utah Opera and offers discounted tickets to certain symphony and opera performances, followed by after-parties at various restaurants or at Abravenal Hall. Orchestra members, conductors and special guest artists frequently attend the Vivace After-Parties.

Studio D is a partnership between Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre and Kingsbury Hall. Each organization offers a discounted Studio D price to a selected show and then hosts an after-party at a local restaurant. Dancers from RWDC and RDT attend the Studio D After-Parties, and Kingsbury Hall generally combines the Studio D Party with the Cast Party, making it a very fun experience.

Upcoming events:

STUDIO D — Feb. 25th: Kingsbury Hall Presents Joe Goode Performance Group | after-party at Market Street Broiler | Studio D | Tickets are $10.

VIVACE — March 3, 2012: Brahms' Symphony No. 1 | after-party at Abravanel Hall's 1st Tier Room, where we'll celebrate Vivace's 7th anniversary | Single Tickets: $48

STUDIO D — April 28th: Ririe-Woodbury’s Irridescence | after-party at The New Yorker| Tickets are $20.

VIVACE — May 5, 2012: Of Mice and Men | after-party at Caffe Molise | Single Tickets: $35

Jennifer Streiff-Hickman is an advisory board member for Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Studio D, and Vivace and is an arts contributor to Salt Lake magazine.