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`Bittersweet Chocolate' dances around love issues

Los Angeles-based choreographer David Rousseve said his work "Bittersweet Chocolate" is based on issues of love.

"I wanted to touch on those things from all different aspects of what love is," Rousseve said during a phone interview from his home. "I wanted to explore love and compassion through abstract movement and literal text."The premiere of "Bittersweet Chocolate" is one of the four works the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company will present during its 1997-98 season opener, "Pardon Our Dust," at the Capitol Theatre, Friday, Oct. 31. Curtain is 7:30 p.m.

" `Bittersweet Chocolate' is basically a string of movements that juxtapose disconnected elements," Rousseve said. "It's really three duets that are all different through their approach and feel. But they're all strung together with the idea's subtext."

Rousseve, who has his own dance company in New York - called Reality - said Joan Wood-bury first contacted him about three years ago to stage the work for Ririe-Woodbury, but it almost didn't happen.

"Joan had seen my company's work and called me. It was a chore getting our schedules together, but we did manage it."

Rousseve, who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, arrived in Salt Lake City last August to stage the work. He was in town for only three weeks, and within that time the dancers had "Bittersweet Chocolate" down, which was no easy feat.

"It's always a challenge working with a new (dance) company," Rousseve said. "The challenge lies in introducing the new dancers to my idosyncratic styles and getting my ideas into them.

"But I found the Ririe-Woodbury dancers were eager to go to new uncharted territory. They wanted to explore beyond what they already knew. The whole process went much faster than I expected."

Rousseve, who also acts and writes, said of all the art forms, dance is a medium through which an artist can communicate most with an audience.

"You use a lot of emotions in dance," he said. "That's what steered me to dance and the performing arts.

"What I tried to do with `Bittersweet Chocolate' is to fuse theatre and dance together. Dance's focus is movement. Theatre combines movement and text, and both are art forms that communicate on all human levels."

Shirley Ririe, who co-directs the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company with Joan Woodbury, said Rous-seve described "Bittersweet Chocolate" to the company as a study of love.

" `You can't live with it, you can't live without it, but you sure gotta have it to survive,' " Ririe said, quoting Rousseve. "The work is beautiful and somewhat abstract and touched, in some places, with humor."

Ririe said the work, overall, had a "yummy" feel - from the Richard Wagner score all the way down to the flowing, cream-colored costumes designed by Scott Michel-son.

In addition to "Bittersweet Chocolate," the evening will include Murray Louis' "Figura," Douglas Neilsen's "The Inky Deep" and Joan Woodbury's "Seated But Not Settled."

"Figura" was first set on the Jose Limon Dance Company and contains some Spanish flair, Ririe said. Then there's "Seated But Not Settled," which was inspired by political campaigns and is very athletic.

"Inky Deep" is another fast-paced, exciting work, Ririe said. "We chose all these different works to show the company's diversity."

- TICKETS for the Ririe-Woodbury season opener, "Pardon Our Dust," which runs Oct. 31-Nov. 1, at the Capitol Theatre, are available for $15-$25 at all ArtTix outlets. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 801-355-ARTS (2787).