Spring ReachUP Impact

UtahPresents ReachUP engagement events this spring were as varied as our artists. Led by Community Engagement Manager Melissa Salguero, these events reached nearly 4,000 people, mostly K-12 students.

Step Afrika kicked off our January with their electric performance on Martin Luther King Day. Following the show, students from Highland High School, who are in the first and only high school stepping group in the state, met the performers and spent time talking and asking questions. The students also performed a short stepping routine for the Step Afrika dancers.

Though stepping is a well-known art form in many parts of the country, it is not as widely practiced locally and seldom presented here. For these students to see professional step dancers and be able to meet with them afterwards was an incredible experience, encouraging them to imagine possibilities for their own futures.

March brought us the fun and joy of Music From The Sole, a tap dance and live music company that celebrates tap’s Afro-Diasporic roots, coming to Utah for the first time to perform both a student matinee and public performance at Kingsbury Hall. During their time here, the artists taught a master class with students from the University of Utah School of Dance and participated in an Afro-Diasporic Dance Exchange that UtahPresents organized at Sorenson Unity Center. The Dance Exchange also featured local organizations Bomba Marilé and Samba Fogo. Attendees ranged in age from nine months to 79, and was a joyous evening of dance, music, and community.

March also featured a public performance and student matinee of Ocean Filibuster, an immersive multimedia theatre performance that explores the critical relationship between humans and the ocean. Partnering with Save our Great Salt Lake, the project aimed to raise awareness of the plight of the lake and what we, as individuals, can do to save it. Members of the group attended the performance in costumes that were made and worn during the most recent state legislative session, as they marched to support water conservation efforts.

Together with Save Our Great Salt Lake, we partnered with the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office and Center for Equity & Student Belonging, along with community groups River Writing Collective and Making Waves for Great Salt Lake, to sponsor a Student Art Contest. Students from across the county created visual art or writing inspired by Great Salt Lake. The contest was open to K-12 students and undergraduates at the U of U. Entries came from students as young as 2nd grade up through college age and varied from paintings to multimedia pieces to longform poetry. View the winning entries here.

UtahPresents also partnered with Save Our Great Salt Lake on their annual vigil at Antelope Island, where community members gathered to advocate for efforts to save and revitalize the lake.

We rounded out the semester with Red Baraat, a North Indian Bhangra fusion band performing their Festival of Colors show celebrating Holi. For this show, we partnered with Utah Punjabi Arts Academy, who opened for Red Baraat and also taught classes at Olene Walker Elementary in partnership with Promise South Salt Lake.

Spring semester also included two master classes with School of Music piano performance majors with virtuoso pianist Simon Trpčeski, a community conversation with the artists from Black Violin, in partnership with Live at the Eccles, and our annual collaboration with University of Utah Youth Theatre for their production of SpongeBob the Musical.