A Rose is a Rose . . . The Rose Wagner Turns 20

A Rose is a Rose . . . The Rose Wagner Turns 20

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the Rose Wagner opened its doors?

A Rose is a Rose. . . but there’s only one Rose Wagner, the arts complex of dance studios and small to mid-sized theaters in Salt Lake City, home of Repertory Dance Theatre.

Affectionately known as “The Rose,” the brainchild of the Performing Arts Coalition formed in part by RDT’s own Linda C. Smith, turns 20 this year.

Since then, the Capital City of Utah has never been the same.

The story about this amazing building goes back to the 90s when Repertory Dance Theatre was looking for a permanent home after the army barracks at the University of Utah, where RDT had been previously, were slated for demolition. It involves a mysterious man named Izzy, a few nervous female RDT dancers on the other side of a plate glass window of the old Restaurant Equipment Supply on West 3rd South, and the intrepid community-building of Linda.

You can read more about this unusual story that led to an ancestral home of an early Jewish, Salt Lake family being donated to the city and county here. Or you can listen to a brief radio spot about it produced by the Beehive Archive here.

Yes, there are larger venues out there (the new Eccles Theatre), and some more historic (Kingsbury Hall), but The Rose houses

Izzi was able to come home to Salt Lake City at least once during boot camp to visit friends and his mother, Rose. Courtesy Don Gale

the beating heart of local professional artists, community groups and small-venue presenters from out-of-town. Even the world-famous Sundance Film Festival annually secures The Rose as one of its prime venues.

It was RDT, America’s premier repertory dance company, that became the catalyst for a string of happenstance events that culminated in Phase 1 of The Rose: a black box theater with two adjacent studios, dressing rooms and administrative offices. Four years later, phase two, a 500-seat proscenium stage and more studios and office space took its first bow and a total of six resident companies, including RDT, put down their roots.

More than any other resident at The Rose, RDT has taken full advantage of this new venture with a main subscription season of 5-6 shows yearly, a children’s monthly series (Ring Around the Rose) and an 11-classes-per-week dance school for adults: RDT’s Dance Center on Broadway. From the hallowed halls of the Rose Wagner, RDT regularly dispatches its dancers and personnel to every corner of the state where, this next year, 50,000 students and teachers will receive arts education services and arts experiences.

The Rose is a theater, a studio, a party venue and the home of RDT and its 8 professional dancers, soon to kick it up and out in its 53rd Season.

We love The Rose. And we hope you do too… as a temple of art where the best, most exciting, most challenging aspects of the human story get brilliantly transcribed, illuminated and brought to life, along with that very local story that Salt Lakers, Utahns and westerners can call their own. The Rose is everyone’s front room, and maybe the communal kitchen too where together we laugh, cry and wonder at the world.

Izzie Wagner, who donated his ancestral home for the Performing Arts Center named after his mother. Here he is with his wife, actress Jeanne Wagner, after whom the Main Stage at The Rose is named.

CELEBRATE THE ROSE DURING ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY BY HELPING RDT WITH ITS FISCAL YEAR-END FUND-DRIVE. TO MEET OUR GOALS AND HELP KEEP THE LIGHTS OF MODERN DANCE “ON” AT THE ROSE, WE NEED YOUR GIFT. THROUGH JUNE 30TH, THE END OF RDT’S FISCAL YEAR, YOUR GIFT WILL BE ADDED TO THE INCOME COLUMN OF ONE OF RDT’S MOST SPECTACULAR SEASONS (2017-18) WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER OF MAINSTAGE SHOWS (6) AND NEW COMMISSIONS, INCLUDING ZVI GOTHENIER’S CELEBRATED “DANCING THE BEARS EARS.”

Earmark your gift for any one of Repertory Dance Theatre’s programs at The Rose: from new commissions, to historical rep. From a free school matinee to a scholarship for a young dancer at one of our intensive workshops.

Thanks for two wonderful decades of RDT at The Rose which is decidedly not a rose by any other name.

Make Rose proud. And celebrate her 20th today by donating to RDT before June 30th. Click here.

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