Repertory Dance Theatre ready to add Park City to palette of modern dance ‘Journeys’
Company performs Saturday at the Eccles Center
Repertory Dance Theatre
- When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3
- Where: Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
- Phone: 435-655-3114
- Web: parkcityinstitute.org
Repertory Dance Theatre Artistic Director Linda C. Smith knows that Park City is filled with people who appreciate the athleticism of the human body.
So she’s thrilled the Park City Institute will present her world-renowned modern dance company on Dec. 3 at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
“While we are in residence in Salt Lake City, we are certainly a part of world dance and dance in the United States on a sophisticated level,” Smith said. “I’m delighted the institute is sponsoring us and acknowledging the wonderful performing arts in Utah. This is something we need to show off.”
Not only is RDT, as it is known in the dance community, performing Saturday, it will also host a student performance on Friday, according to Smith.
“The program we are doing is called ‘Journey,’ and it’s a historical survey of modern dance,” she said. “While we formed in 1966, we are a repertory company that has a library that spans 120 years of modern dance. So it’s important to us to preserve the past and our history. And we love to perform it.”
When Smith creates a performance program, she approaches it like she does when she creates a culinary menu.
“There’s some hors d’oeuvres, salad, meat and potatoes and desserts, so to speak,” she said. “I love to mix eras, because the historical repertory we have is not dusty. There are no cobwebs and they don’t look dated. It’s just full of good work that is lasting and encompasses different styles and philosophies.”
The performances will open with “North Star,” a 1978 work by Lar Lubovitch.
“I love Lar’s work, because he has that wonderful flow that is reminiscent of (Doris) Humphrey and (Jose) Limon’s work that every step has a purpose and meaning,” Smith said. “So, what I’m saying is that this is a contemporary classic.”
The music is by minimalist composer Philip Glass, according to Smith.
“I think Lar was one of the first choreographers that I’m aware of who used minimal music,” she said. “And Lar has a wonderful relationship with music in his movements.”
The next piece on the program was created in 1958, Smith said.
“We’re going to do ‘The Mazurkas,’ by Jose Limon,” she said.
The piece The Mazurkas, featuring the music of Chopin, was originally titled “Dances in Honor of Poznan, Wroclaw, Katowiez and Warszawa.”
It was created in honor of these cities and their people in Poland after Lubovitch visited Europe after World War II, Smith said.
The choreographer was moved by the courage of the Polish people and created the work as a tribute to their heroic spirit, she said.
“This piece features duets, solos, trios, quartets that spotlights our dancers’ strong technique and ability,” Smith said. “It really showcases their poetic movements.”
The second half of Saturday night’s performance will start with paying tribute to RDT’s alumni, Bill Evans, a modern-dance pioneer from Utah.
“We did a tribute to him earlier this year called ‘Quadruple Bill,’ and we commissioned him to do a work for our 50th anniversary in 2016,” Smith said. “He’s 85 and still creating wonderful work.”
The work he created six years ago is called “Crippled Up Blues and Other Tales of Deseret,” which is on Saturday’s program, Smith said.
Evans dedicated it to the memory of his brother Mike, who passed away in 2015, she said.
“It is inspired by Bill’s family and history,” Smith said. “It’s Americana, but I would say it’s ‘Utah-acana,’ because he took inspiration from family tales he grew up with.”
The music for Evans’ work was written and recorded in 2015 by the 3hattrio — Hal Cannon, Greg Istock and Eli Wrankle, Smith said.
“We’ve had a long musical relationship with Hal, beginning with his Deseret String Band in the 1960s and 1970s,” she said. “He now lives in Southern Utah, and we’re happy to continue our relationship with him.”
Saturday’s performance will conclude with a piece titled “Out Doors” by Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof, Smith said.
“They are from Israel and part of the Batsheva Dance Company,” she said. “They are also (pioneers) of the Gaga philosophy where dancers approach movement in a way that is layered with imagery.”
Smith describes “Out Doors,” which is part of a larger 2018 work called “Shutdown,” as “ritualistic and tribal.”
“It’s laced with a little humor, invention and delightful intriguing movement vocabulary,” she said. “It clearly represents the more contemporary side of modern dance.”
Smith believes Saturday’s program will have something for everyone.
“We have a palette that runs from the 1950s until the present, and I think it’s a dynamite program people can relate to no matter what experience they have with modern dance,” she said. “We’re just delighted to be able to head to Park City, because after COVID, getting back on the road is really wonderful.”
With the wrap-up of the 2023 Sundance and Slamdance film festivals, it’s up to Park City Film to carry the art-house torch with its weekend screenings.
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