Artistic Difference

One of the biggest problems a dance troupe faces is financial support. When funding does come through, artistic content for the troupe's season can be dictated by the sponsoring patrons, leaving little room for new and experimental work. But Michael Uthoff, former director of Ballet Arizona, has formed a new type of dance company, which he hopes will break the mold the Michael Uthoff Dance Theatre.

"This company has been conceived to address several issues that concern the art of dance today, in both artistic and fiscal arenas," says Uthoff.

By modeling the troupe after a theatrical company (which contracts performers on a per-show basis), Uthoff strives to put on original shows without breaking the bank, or being stuck within a strict parameter of artistic content.

Uthoff pulled dancers from two Miami companies, the Dance Now! Ensemble and New World Dance Ensemble, for the first performance, made up of seven works from six to 25 minutes in length and set to music ranging from Ravel to Corigliano.

Now a resident of the Valley, Uthoff originally hails from Santiago, Chile, where he was born into a family of dancers. He attended the Julliard School of Music, the School of American Ballet, and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Uthoff was asked to join the prestigious Joffrey Ballet, and later the First Chamber Dance Company of New York. In 1992, he took the post at Ballet Arizona, which he held for seven years.

"I fell in love with the whole countryside of Arizona. I felt that this would be a good inspiration," he says. Uthoff seems excited about his new formula and is hopeful that it will continue.

"This might or might not work," he admits. "But people have supported me for what I did, and hopefully they will support me for what I am doing now."