New Education Director, Dancer Join Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Fresh on the heels of the 50th Anniversary Season, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is excited to announce two prominent additions to the company. Dance performance and education are core to Ririe-Woodbury’s mission, and to carry on the strong tradition of a world-class organization, Ai Fujii Nelson has been selected as Education Director, and Melissa Rochelle Younker joins the company as our newest dancer.
Originally from Japan, Ai Fujii Nelson earned a BFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah in 1998 and a Master’s degree in creative and performing arts in 2010 from the University of Auckland, in New Zealand. Nelson brings with her a wealth of dance education experience. She was a dancer and educator with Ririe-Woodbury from 2000-2008, and has coordinated the Company’s master class program since 2011. She has also taught at Ballet West Academy, Children’s Dance Theatre, Utah Valley University, and the University of Auckland, among many other organizations.
Nelson replaces Ririe-Woodbury veteran Gigi Arrington, who has been Education Director since 1996, having previously danced with the company from 1979-1981. Arrington has overseen the expansion of Ririe-Woodbury’s education program, and has brought dance to countless children across the state - from Park Valley to Monument Valley, and everywhere in between. Arrington will continue her involvement with the Company in an education advisory role.
New Dancer Melissa Younker earned a BFA in dance from California State University, Long Beach, having previously studied at Orange Coast College. Younker has appeared in works created by John Beasant III, Linda Sohl-Ellison, Mike Esperanza, Keith Johnson, Alex Ketley, Sophie Monat, and more. Younker replaces dancer and fellow CSULB alum Tara Roszeen McArthur, who has danced full-time with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company since 2010. McArthur is leaving to pursue new opportunities in the dance world.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Ai and Melissa to the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. I am so thrilled to work along side these inspiring artists. They each possess amazing qualities that will be a wonderful addition to the organization as we continue to evolve and grow,” said Ririe-Woodbury artistic director Daniel Charon.
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Gallery Photos: Ai Fujii Nelson, Gigi Arrington, Melissa Younker, Tara McArthur Downloadable Files