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Thankful for RDT

Thankful for RDT

When it comes to RDT, our staff and dancers have so much to be thankful for!  We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wish you joyous holiday season!  Below are some of the many things we are thankful for…

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Pilar… I’m thankful for all the opportunities RDT offers to think outside the box. To do something you’ve done before but different. Always changing, always growing, even when it’s a repeat.

Lauren… I am thankful for my supportive family and friends, my health, and the leadership within RDT that has made it possible for me to do what I love every day.

David… They call theater the great “Imaginary Invalid,” a fragile enterprise that for whatever reason continues anyway, year-after-decade-after-century. Concert dance is of course an imaginary invalid as well. That Repertory Dance Theatre has maintained for 50 years would suggest that we are not quite as fragile as we sometimes might seem, especially to those behind the scenes. I would agree. And the big reason why is our stakeholders, which is what I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving. This group of patrons, advocates, students, teachers, donors (both cash and in-kind)–at every level from $1 to $30,000–are a testament to not only the loyalty of the RDT family, but the character of that family.

Ricklen… I am grateful for RDT’s unwavering commitment to the highest artistic ideals and for its significant focus on sharing the joy of movement in the schools and in the community, offering people of all ages an experience that, in its immediacy and intimacy, is both thrilling and profound.

Nick… I am grateful for the many things RDT has taught me and continues to teach me.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work for an organization that I believe in, that I support, and with people who make me a better person each day we are together.

Bolero_CropLynne: I am grateful for all the wonderful and inspiring students I teach everyday in RDT’s AIE Outreach Program.

Jaclyn: I am very grateful to have a job dancing that feels more like a calling. I feel so lucky to be challenged every day and excited about what I can share through the art form! I also appreciate the family nature that RDT is in my life. When you create something special together, it makes a lasting bond that manifests so magically on stage. Much thanks to RDT for making all of my dreams possible!

Efren Corado Garcia: I am grateful to live in Salt Lake City for continuing to recognize the importance of Arts and Culture, allowing RDT to serve as it’s ambassador and as one of the city’s precious jewels. Also, I am grateful to RDT for giving me the opportunity to be a part of its legacy.

Dan: I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of a family, a family that encourages me to push myself, find an artistic voice, and give back to a beautiful artistic community through the art of dance.

Lacie: I am thankful for the challenges RDT provides that stretch and strengthen both my mind and body through the art of Dance.

Stephanie: I am grateful to be a part of the RDT team because even though I am not a performer, art is a part of my daily life. I love being able to share the work of this Company and I’m proud to be a part of it. When I grew up dancing I never thought I would get to work in the field, but I’m so grateful that now dance is a part of my everyday life.

Justin: Every year Thanksgiving reminds me of how blessed I am to be living out my dream and how RDT goes beyond in making that possible. Being able to represent dance in such a historical way with the rep we do takes my breathe away every season. I am always reminded that dance isn’t just performing but about educating the future on how it must be preserved and it’a rich history. Being apart of RDT gives me a purpose bigger than myself and how can’t I be thankful for that?

#tourlife: An Inside Look at RDT on the Road

#tourlife: An Inside Look at RDT on the Road

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By Lauren Curley


October 3, 2016
: Fresh off a weekend of shows, we meet our Artistic Associate Nick Cendese at the Rose Wagner bright and early and hit the road for Laramie, WY. Later that day Jaclyn and Justin teach a master class for the University of Wyoming students and Nick begins choreography with them. The rest of us get unpacked and head to rehearsal. Our tour show is slightly different than the one we just performed, so we wanted to take a little time to refresh some stuff.

October 4: More master classes, choreography, and rehearsals today. We’re performing at the brand new high school in Laramie, but we didn’t double check the address before leaving so we ended up at the old abandoned one instead. We’re the first to perform on the new stage, a beautiful theater with reclaimed barn wood everywhere. Tech rehearsal goes well.

October 5: Performance day! Efren, Ursula, and I took the morning to drive out to Vedauwoo for a little hiking and exploring before teaching another master class at the University. We performed “Dance with Three Blankets,” “Jack,” “Bolero” (all by Shapiro & Smith, and Joanie Smith), Noa Zuk’s “By the Snake,” and William “Bill” Evans’ “Crippled Up Blues.”  The university dancers who worked with Nick performed their piece as well. After the show we got dinner and drinks with some of the students before heading back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

October 6: Driving day. We make the drive out to Rapid City, South Dakota and get settled into our rooms before checking out a local brewery for dinner. We’re here to participate in the Dance Network of South Dakota‘s annual convention.

October 7: We have an amazing day of outreach working with adults with disabilities at the Suzie Cappa Art Center. We teach a movement class and do a lecture demonstration and then head back to the hotel. Tyler and Lacie lead improvisation classes for two groups of students at the convention and then some of the dancers head out to see Flutter Productions’ presentation of “Able: The Disability Chronicles,” an amazing experience featuring performers both with and without disabilities.

October 8: Each company member and Nick have two convention classes to teach today before we perform tonight. In our free time we kind of lay low, either wandering out to grab coffee or napping. We perform “Blankets,” Jose Limon’s “Mazurkas,” “Crippled Up Blues,” “Jack,” and “Bolero” for the convention students followed by a great Q&A. Afterwards we all check out a local pub to unwind with drinks and appetizers.

October 9: Each company member teaches a repertory class in the morning, then we all drive to Mount Rushmore. After taking in the sights we hit the road again, this time heading for Bozeman, Montana. It’s a long drive, so our car keeps the energy up by singing Alanis Morissette at the top of our lungs.

October 10: Another driving day. We wake up early and hit the road again for Moses Lake, Washington. This is the last stop on our tour and after 16 hours of driving we’re more than ready to relax a little.

October 11: This morning the company splits up. Jaclyn and Lacie head to a neighboring town to teach while the rest of us go to a lecture demonstration at a local elementary school.

October 12: Today is another show day, our last one of the tour. We perform “Blankets,” “Mazurkas,” “Crippled Up Blues,” “Jack,” and “Bolero” again, then head back to our hotel. We brought a crock-pot with us and had been taking turns cooking, so tonight we hung out and ate pulled pork sandwiches that Ursula made.

October 13: Today we scatter around town, either exploring or teaching master classes. It’s our last day of tour, and everyone is excited to get home to their families and dogs. Nick makes Indian food for our final dinner and we lay low playing games in our rooms.

October 14: We’re ready to head out at 6 am to make the long drive back home. After fueling up for lunch in Boise, Idaho, we finally make it back into the city. We all head back to our respective homes to enjoy the rest of our weekend before we gear up to get back in the studio on Monday.

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lauren_300x300A Massachusetts native, Lauren Curley has been on the RDT Company since 2014. She was a scholarship student at the University of Harford’s The Hartt School, graduating summa cum laude with a BFA. In addition to RDT, Lauren is a faculty member at several pre-professional studios through the Salt Lake Valley. You can read more about Lauren, and watch a video of her here.

A Day in the life of an RDT Dancer

A Day in the life of an RDT Dancer

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A Day in the Life of a Modern Dancer: What does an RDT dancer’s schedule look like?

By Jaclyn Brown

My daily schedule is something I get asked about in almost every Q&A I have ever been a part of. I suppose people are just intrigued by the idea of dancing as a career, and wonder what we do all day! Most think that we spend the majority of our time teaching, when in reality we are constantly rehearsing and preparing ourselves physically for upcoming performances. To give you an idea, here is a glimpse into the daily life of an RDT dancer:

6:30am– I have learned that our days are hard enough that if I don’t get my cross training in during the morning, I won’t have enough steam left after work to get it done. So, I usually wake up a little earlier to run on my treadmill for about 30 minutes. Then I quickly get ready for the day and leave my house by 8am for the morning commute to work from outside Salt Lake City.

8:40am– Most of the dancers have arrived at the studio by now and we start preparing for the day. For me this includes rolling out, hip opening/strength exercises, breathing/meditation, reviewing material we will rehearse later in the day, etc.

9:00-10:30am– Company class. This is essential to prepare us for a full day of rehearsing. Each company member usually teaches one week per year. The rest of the time the teachers range from our rehearsal directors to guest choreographers and local university professors. Ideally we have two days of ballet class and 3 days of modern class, for a total of 5 rehearsal days per week (Monday-Friday).

10:30-10:45am– We have a 15-minute break. This is usually only enough time to run to the restroom, grab a quick snack, hydrate, and cool down the body/stretch.

20160920_10292810:45am-1pm– Rehearse! We aim to schedule our most difficult tasks during this time frame. The reason for this is that it can be difficult to learn new choreography or dance full-out during the last half of the day when your brain and body can become foggy. This is the time to run dances for stamina, learn new choreography, and the like.

1-2pm- Lunch break. Some of us pack lunch, some of us eat out, some of us go home to eat and let out pets! The weeks closer to our performances become very intense during the last half of the day, so it’s important to eat wisely at this time … enough to fuel our bodies accordingly.

2-4pm– Final stretch of rehearsing. We cover whatever else is a priority at the time. Often we are preparing several different shows at the same time. For example, right now we are prepping our home season concert while also getting up our touring show and other one-time performances. The touring show is full of dances that we have previously performed and just need to revisit and polish up. The home show is usually full of dances that will premiere and aren’t necessarily ingrained in our bodies yet.

4pm– Done for the day! Many go to their other jobs like teaching at dance studios or working in a restaurant. Personally, I don’t have a second job, so I get to go home and recuperate for the next day! This includes things like walking my dog, cleaning, cooking a healthy dinner, and other “normal” people things.

I love our schedule at RDT. To me it is perfectly balanced, and we always seem to pull off what we need to within the 9-4 timeframe. Other companies rehearse for longer or on weekends. Although certain situations arise in which that is true for us, I prefer our schedule because it leaves time to have a regular life as well. The daily grind can become overwhelming when you only have one or two days off to play catch up. This is especially true when we are deep into our busy season. But it is always worth it when we step out on that stage prepared because of our consistency in the months beforehand! After fifty years of this schedule, I believe that RDT has worked out all the kinks!

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Jaclyn Brown is currently in her third season with Repertory Dance Theatre, and greatly enjoys sharing her love of the art form through performing on stages of every kind in every place possible.

RDT goes Gaga – AGAIN, part 2

RDT goes Gaga – AGAIN, part 2

By The Snake_4

RDT dancers reflect on the Gaga Experience:

Tyler Orcutt: Gaga helped me to connect to my “inner groove.” The way that class is structured in particular creates a sense of enlightenment in the way one can move and work differently than what one is used to.  You never stop moving for the entire duration of class. Instead of leaving an idea behind, as one would start to focus on a new idea, all ideas continue to stack up on one another. Because of this, gaga creates a space that fosters creativity through one’s own exploration of body and mind.

Jaclyn Brown: The concepts I have discovered in Gaga have greatly changed the way I embody movement. When I first began studying gaga, I realized what a great imitator I had been in my dancing. I could make movement look the way it was “supposed to” on the outside of my body in terms of shape and energy; the problem was that I did not actually taste the sensations of my movement inside of my body. Now I have a renewed excitement about discovering my dancing from the inside out, and it makes me feel like a kid again!

Lauren Curley: Opening myself up to the amazingly structured improvisation element of the gaga movement language has been delicious to wrap my mind and body around. Being given permission to live in the extremes releases an almost carnal feeling for me that is wholly satisfying and terrifying to experience. There is a sensuality to drawing inspiration from the textural qualities within your own body that has lent itself beautifully to my approach to rehearsing, be it with classical or contemporary works. It feels indulgent to have the privilege to derive such pleasure from movement, yet so fulfilling artistically.

Dan Higgins: The language of gaga has brought a freshness and deeper understanding to my movement. I feel more alive as I move, and I am able to access the deeper, and richer qualities of multiple movement styles through the ideals that the gaga language provides.

Lacie Scott: Researching sensations while moving/dancing brings a new awareness to the body and continually increases the vocabulary of movement possibilities. A growing vocabulary provides choices of endless different textures to improve performance of any choreographic style.

Justin Bass: When I think about how gaga movement has affected my style of dance and life, I think about my own personal journey and where I started. Since every moment is a new one in this movement, I am constantly retracing steps that have gotten me to where I am mentally and physically as an artist. It’s like being asked to explain the way I breathe; it’s constant but ever-changing in what is called “in the moment.”

By The Snake_1

RDT goes Gaga … AGAIN (Part 1)

RDT goes Gaga … AGAIN (Part 1)

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By Linda C. Smith
Artistic | Executive Director

At the turn of the 20th century, many dancers worldwide were exploring ways to express the energy of a new era … one that was influenced by technology, the access to travel and the discovery of scientific principles that were to change our lives forever. Daring choreographers boldly rejected the status quo and were determined to create new movement languages.

That exploration continues through Gaga.

As a repertory company, Repertory Dance Theatre houses the work of over 150 different choreographers. Each requires a dancer to learn a different movement vocabulary. Today, RDT’s expanding lexicon now includes the Gaga movement language developed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director of the Batsheva Dance Company based in Tel Aviv.

Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body. Gaga provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while lightening the senses and imagination. Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations, and offers ways for their elimination. The work improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement, and it allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way, in a pleasant space, in comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, each person with himself and others. We become more aware of our form. We connect to the sense of the endlessness of possibilities. We explore multi-dimensional movement; we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are ready to snap, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it. We change our movement habits by finding new ones. We go beyond our familiar limits. We can be calm and alert at once.” –Ohad Naharin

RDT has worked with Gaga in the past, so the language wasn’t new for us when, during the summer of 2016, we had the pleasure of working with dancer and choreographer Danielle Agami and her company Ate9. But as with writing, different authors use the same language very differently. Gaga is a tool Agami uses on a daily basis while choreographing her original repertory.

The experience for RDT dancers was again transforming.

Theatre_1Danielle Agami was born in Israel in 1984 and was a member of the Batsheva Dance Company from 2002-2010. She functioned as the company’s rehearsal director and is now one of only fifty Gaga teachers worldwide. In 2011, Agami relocated to New York City, then founded Ate9 Dance and chose Los Angeles as the company’s home.  Agami describes Gaga as a movement language rather than a technique. She says, “Gaga trains us to be fully effective and efficient in our body movements as we communicate.” The Gaga experience connects our senses to a world of endless possibilities.

Anyone can take a Gaga class. Experienced dancers might take a class alongside someone who has never danced before. However, there is a protocol in class and a list of requirements that one is expected to follow.

Instructions on taking a Gaga Class

You must be on time to the class. No entry for latecomers: Attending the first minutes of the class is very important so you will be able to produce more from the session and take care of your body.

Everyone work barefoot, without shoes. Participants wear comfortable clothes that allow freedom of movement.

Never stop. The class is one session, with no pauses or exercises. It is a continuity of instructions one on top of the other, never a cancellation of the previous one but added to it, layer upon layer. Therefore, it is important not to stop in the middle of the session. If you get tired or want to work at another pace, you can always lower the volume, work 30 or 20 perecent, float, or rest, but without losing sensations that have already been awakened.

Warm up. A Gaga class begins with a slow warm up to awaken the body. During class students explore ways of moving designed to heighten sensitivity and build strength and flexibility. Throughout the class, students are in constant motion, crawling on the floor, walking, falling, circling the wrist, head rolling, arching and kicking through space. Movement that begins subtly often explodes into actions that have every part of the body gyrating–raw and controlled all at once.

Listening to the body. It is important that you take the instructions gently into your body while being aware of the body’s sensations, abilities, and limitations. Do not seek excessive effort on your first time–seek the quality of the movement, the sensation to which you are aiming, but with less intensity in the work. Go to places where the pleasure in movement is awakened and not to places of pain. Maintain the connection to pleasure especially during effort (effort being different than pain). If you have any limitation, restrictions, or physical pain–permanent or temporary–talk to the teacher before the class starts, and be aware of these factors throughout the session.

Awareness. Be aware. Get inspired by the teacher and by other people in the room. Be mindful of people around you, the space that they need, and the interaction if any.

Silence: During the session do not speak unless instructed to use your voice or words. If you have any questions, you are welcome to bring them up at the end of the session.

Dancers with Repertory Dance Theatre have responded to the Gaga classes with enthusiasm. And Gaga has affected the way they rehearse and perform.

In our next post, you can read, firsthand, what RDT dancers have learned from their Gaga experience.

By The Snake_3