Company to present a spectrum of modern dance | ParkRecord.com

Company to present a spectrum of modern dance

MATT JAMES, Of the Record staff

Repertory Dance Theatre performers Thayer Jonutz, left, and Chien-Ying Wang, right, dance. Photo by Rick Egan.

This weekend, a bit of dancing history will visit the Eccles Center.

This Friday and Saturday Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT), will present a pair of shows for Park City School District students and the public. The company comes courtesy of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, dancing for the public on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

"We are doing some of our excerpts from our repertory program for our ‘100 Years of Dance’ show," said Linda Smith, the executive and artistic director for the Salt Lake City-based company.

The eight excerpts include pieces from six decades and range from "Strange Hero," choreographed by Daniel Nagrin in 1948, to "Here We Are," composed by Scott Rink in 2004.

The subject matter of the dances includes an equally broad spectrum, from Zvi Gotheiner’s opening piece, "Duets to Brazilian-Indian Music," featuring a group of pieces danced to indigenous Brazilian music, to "Chair/Pillow," by Yvonne Rainer. Set to the music of Ike and Tina Turner, the piece investigates everyday objects and physical movements through dance.

Also featuring some classic works like Nagrin’s piece, which evokes the anti-heroes of Hollywood’s gangster-movie classics, and Laura Dean’s "Sky Light," which closes the evening with a flurry of spins and movements the show includes a sampling of modern dance.

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"It’s a very diverse program," said Smith. "It shows not only the dynamic angles of contemporary dance, but also RDT."

This year, the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Created in 1966 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Smith said the Repertory Dance Theatre was part of a program to decentralize the arts in the United States. The foundation, she said, invested in RDT to bring professional modern dance to a new area.

"We became the first successful modern dance repertory company in the country," said Smith. "We wear that crown with distinction."

Smith has been part of the group since its inception. She has worked as the artistic director since 1983.

The Repertory Dance Theatre, she said, was charted to perform, create, preserve and educate. The group makes its performances in Salt Lake City and on tour, and creates by commissioning new works. At the same time, the company preserves by acting as a "living library" of dances, and educates through the Repertory Dance Theatre Community School and its educational programs at schools.

The group, she added, generally tries to include special educational concerts and classes wherever it performs.

"We concentrate on the national and state core curriculum for dance," said Smith.

In addition to providing educational experiences for dancers, she said the organization also does programs aimed at helping other youth learn through dance and movement.

"We promote good health and also teach the creative process," she said.

Smith noted the diversity of the group’s agenda; doing so many things, she said, can be difficult.

"So we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last 40 years," she added, "and we’re proud that it happened in Utah."

In Park City, RDT will display the performance and preservation portions of its mission in the group’s Saturday show. The educational outreach will come Friday, when the company will present one Friday performance for Park City’s elementary students and another for the high school and middle school students.

"Then we’re doing a workshop for the high school dance students as well," said Smith.

The RDT comes to the Eccles Center as one of the two Utah groups on the Performing Arts Foundation’s regular schedule. The company last performed in Park City in the spring of the Eccles Center’s first season. So, this weekend represents a return of the city’s modern dance repertory troupe.

"It’s been a while," said Smith. "So we’re delighted [to come], because there’s a wonderful facility and people have asked us to be there."

Repertory Dance Theatre will make its public performance at the Eccles Center on Saturday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the show range from $15-$50 and are available by calling 655-3114. For tickets or more information, call http://www.ecclescenter.org.

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