LOGAN – I ought to be accustomed to it by now, but every now and then a local performance will still come out of left field and absolutely dazzle me.

The most recent impressive example of that kind of surprise was a dress rehearsal of Forces by the Valley Dance Ensemble (VDE).

That show knocked my socks off and you’ve got a chance to see it again on Saturday, April 27 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre.

We’re all familiar with ballet, thanks to Ballet West and the Cache Civic Ballet. But VDE’s forte is modern dance, which is a refreshing horse of a different color.

Modern dance is an expressive style of dance that challenges the structured dance technique of classical ballet.

Developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the focus of modern dance is expression, rather than following a rigid set of postures or technical positions like ballet dancers. Modern dance movements are considered free-form and fluid.

Those movements are often inspired by other dance styles — like African, ballet and folk dances. Under the direction of director and choreographer Caitlyn Jennings, however, the performance of the VDE dancers was far more approachable than any of those other forms of movement.

If you liked performances by the Odyssey Dance Theatre — which went out of business in 2022 after 28 years of thrilling Utah audiences – you’re sure to be impressed by Jennings’ dancers.

But ODT troupe was made up of professional dancers, Ms. Jennings observes, working with a professional choreographer. VDE is a strictly home-grown affair – with amateur dancers and semi-professional choreographers.

“We’re the dance equivalent of community theatre,” she laughs.

Despite that, the VDE director has nothing to apologize for.

The goal of the Forces show developed by the dance ensemble this season was to explore the world by finding movements, exposing vulnerability and collectively breathing as one influenced by external forces.

That intention played out in dance routines with names recalling the four traditional elements of “Air,” “Earth,” “Fire” and “Rain,” as well as other evocative titles.

The troupe’s choreographers – Ms. Jennings, Hayley Christiansen, Tessa Evans, Tiffany Childress, Parker Strubhar, Kelzie Devitt, Lauren Hansen, Julia Moreland, Alyssa Luthi, Katie Anderson and guest choreographer Stephanie White – developed intricate movement techniques that, while considered more relaxed and natural then ballet, still required an admirable display of core strength and flexibility on the part of the VDE dancers.

The most memorable and dramatic of those routines were “Ash,” choreographed by Ms. Jennings; the first act finale “Magma Magnetism,” choreographed by Ms. White; the stormy “Lightning,” choreographed by Ms. Hansen; and “Earth,” the show’s breathtaking climax choreographed by Ms. Anderson.

The VDE dancers who performed Forces were Ms. Anderson, Ms. Childress, Ms. Christiansen, Ella Gilbert, Ms. Hansen, Ms. Jennings, Coral Kirkman, Ronnie Love, Ms. Luthi, Ms. Moreland, Annalee Roberts, Ms. Devitt, and Marina Wagner.

Forces will be performed by the Valley Dance Ensemble for one night only at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre.

Tickets can be obtained by going online to www.cachearts.org

The Ellen Eccles Theatre is located at 43 South Main Street in downtown Logan.

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