Learning to speak the language of dance | ParkRecord.com

Learning to speak the language of dance

by Dale Thompson

Lynn Listing (left) and Nick Cendese (right) perform a conversation based entirely on gestures.

Students need foreign language credit and last Friday the Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) brought them the language of dance.

"We train, we try to speak the language of movement articulately," Artistic Director Linda Smith told the students in attendance.

Smith has been with the company since it began in 1976 and as a former dancer with the company she knows first-hand what can be conveyed through the art of dance.

During the lecture demonstration Smith served as interpreter, talking to students about key dance concepts such as time, space and energy.

She also covered history.

Her goal with the outreach for high school students was to give them, "an appreciation of the art and history of dance and the importance of it in societies, societies in (the) past, present and future."

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Dance has an eternal quality, Smith said.

"Dance has always been a part of culture, dancing is an instinct," she said.

During the outreach she told students about Isadora Duncan who was influenced by classic Greek work and emphasized natural movements, she is commonly thought of as the mother of modern dance.

Modern dance has always been about challenging the norm, Smith said adding that it has played an influential role in shaping female roles.

"Dance was part of a revolution that helped change fashion and politics, especially for women," she said.

In the 1970’s during a post modern era when Andy Warhol painted soup cans and looked at ordinary objects in a new way the dance world threw away the book and began exploring new perspectives. Performances focused on patterns, examining the subtle differences in dancers during sequences of repetition.

At the end of the program all of the dancers stepped forward and sat on the edge of the stage answering questions for students. The audience of dance students inquired about when dancers started and it was revealed each company member had more than 10 years of aggressive dance training, many of them having picked up the art not long after walking.

Just before everyone filed out of the auditorium Smith encouraged students to be strong and articulate with their bodies in their daily lives.

Emily Yarbenet, a tenth-grade dance student reflected on the performance.

"It was good and different," she said.

Her fellow classmate Margauz Perrier said they hadn’t witnessed anything quite like it and the performance was very different from what was usually presented for them.

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