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Category: Season 51

Movement That Transcends its Meaning: New Work in RDT’s EMERGE

Movement That Transcends its Meaning: New Work in RDT’s EMERGE

A hand placed over your mouth …

A hand covering your eyes … your partner’s eyes …

Grabbing someone by the neck …

Imagine my joy when I get feedback on my piece saying, “Wow, you did a whole dance about the ‘forbidden’ gestures.  That was gutsy.”

Oops … I totally did.

How did this happen?  I didn’t mean to use gestures that I’ve seen a million times before–that have been done so often that they almost don’t mean a thing.

When I choreograph I usually try to keep one thing in mind DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

What does that mean exactly?  That statement is a lot harder to fulfill than it might seem–it requires that you be fully aware of your habits, your usual choices, your movement style and movement vocabulary.  It means you have to explore new musical choices, you have to break old habits, you have to push yourself to do something you find uncomfortable. It means you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to just do something different than what I’VE done before?  Do I want to do something that NO ONE has ever seen before? Do I focus on a new movement vocabulary?  A new process?”

In this day and age, that’s very hard to do–not all movements are created equal.

Contemporary dancers live in a time that is so saturated with movement that many movements or “moves” are already freighted with associations, ideas, images, or even time and place.  They become a kind of short-hand that short-circuits the creative process. Hence, the forbidden moves …

  • death drop to one knee
  • tricks/leaps/turns that we can see coming because of a preparation, a set up, or a chasse that ALWAYS comes before the trick
  • moves that are made famous in a music video and are then copied by people in every walk of life: for example, The Whip, the Dab …
  • grabbing your head in both hands and moving it in a big circle
  • reaching out into space, grabbing nothing with a pained look on your face
  • a fan kick or side tilt with your who-who-dilly directed straight at the audience
  • any of these moves by the now in-famous Contemporary Eric …

In dance we use the term “movement vocabulary.” And as with spoken language, moves (like words) can come and go, becoming fashionable and then unfashionable. And they can also lose their meaning altogether, just as words and terminology do: Who knows what the word “synergy” means these days (especially when they appear in a business book), or “surreal.” Words actually do have a denotative meaning (you can look them up in a dictionary), but they’re used so commonly (“We need to have ‘closure’.”) that terminology can become bereft of meaning, even leading, in its extremes, to what’s been called “semantic satiation.”

The same is true of vocabulary in movement or dance. There are overused phrases or words that eventually when spoken or performed no longer carry meaning or importance which have been lost over time after they were used repeatedly without focus or intent. In dance, it’s not just mindless repetition that causes this; sometimes the language loses its power when it is tied to the lyrics of a pop song or even just the crescendo of the music.  In fact, these moves can actually subtract meaning from your work by referencing something so common place, so well-known that they become virtually indecipherable.

So why on earth did I use several of them as a motifs for my duet Folie A Duex which debuts this weekend at RDT’s Emerge?

Good question. I don’t know–all I can tell you is, I wasn’t thinking about those moves as stock gestures.

It was about following an idea … a feeling–a state of being–a brief image that popped into my head, months ago, as I was thinking about this duet.

I don’t believe in questioning an idea. I simply work to fulfill that idea, and that idea comes with a movement vocabulary, a style, a series of qualities.  I work to identify those qualities and create movement, partnering, and dance structures that fit that idea.

Yes … my original idea did include these moments of touching, of covering eyes, mouths, necks, check, hips, etc.  But it was the quality of touch that was important.  It was the way the dancer made contact with themselves or their partner that caught my attention … that’s what I was exploring.  It didn’t seem to matter that I’d seen the gestures before.  Obviously, that didn’t even cross my mind.

I guess that like a creative writer, I was exploring movement language in a new way.  I was exploring the quality of the language, these moves in their purest form. They aren’t made in anger, in sadness. They aren’t moments designed to represent tenderness or compassion.

RDT Dancers Ursula Perry and Dan Higgins will perform “Folie A Duex,” an original work by Nick Cendese at EMERGE.

This is a challenge for both the dancers (Ursula & Dan) and myself. We’ve worked hard to coach one another in how we touch each other: the directness of the hand, the firmness of the touch, the way the hand doesn’t caress up the body to the place where it ends. All these gestures, when you look at them closely, have what seems to be inherent meaning.  The most basic arrangement of the duet–a man and a woman–already says so much! Humans are meaning-making creatures and we subscribe meaning to almost everything we see, even when we don’t mean to or know we are doing it.

As choreographer, I want my dancers to be able to perform these gestures, which makes up the work’s “language,” without commenting on them. If I’ve done my job properly, you won’t see the touches as the main goal of the piece. These moves that have been executed a thousand times are a recurring motif that, hopefully, has been used to paint a picture of a feeling, of a moment between two people, a moment that is intangible and diffuse and ghost-like.  A moment that lives openly and allows you, the viewer, to enter the conversation and to add your own meaning. In a sense my objective is to have the movement in “Folie A Duex” transcend the meaning of its vocabulary, something that a poet–whose tools are words drawn from the pool of vocabulary we all use–is always aspiring to.

Come see if I was able to do that this weekend at Emerge–my little duet based around forbidden movements.

RDT Gift Guide for the Dancer (or dance lover) in your life

RDT Gift Guide for the Dancer (or dance lover) in your life

the ultimate

Dance Classes

Every dancer knows that the only way to get better is to take class! Even our professional dancers take class EVERY DAY to get better, hone their skills and progress.

But you don’t have to be a professional dancer to take class. At RDT’s Dance Center on Broadway, we offer classes for every skill level (even if you’ve never set foot in a dance studio before).

All classes are in the evenings and on weekends, so they fit into your schedule and there’s no long-term commitment! You can drop in to classes as you please.
And …  there’s everything from Modern to Hip Hop to the newly formed Bollywood class!
Check out the full schedule here.

A 10-Class punch-card is good for any class on the schedule and the best bang for your buck.

Purchase Now

 

If you’d like to purchase a gift card for your loved one in a denomination other than $100, contact us. 🙂

And … if you can’t decide, check out the OPEN HOUSE on January 7. You can dance all day for just $10! Learn more>>


Concert Dance Tickets

Not everyone wants to try dance — they’d rather just watch. And who’s to blame them? Beautiful bodies moving beautifully on stage is really a sight to behold.
Well … you’ve come to the right place. This is our specialty. 😉

RDT has a incredible shows coming up that you won’t want to miss.

For the wild spirit: EMERGEEMERGE_DATE

EMERGE is RDT’s dance choreography showcase, featuring 8 dances by the RDT dancers and Artistic Staff. Dances feature local artists as well as RDT dancers.
It’s the place to be to see the next generation of choreographers. BUY TICKETS HERE>>

For the party animal: REGALIA

REGALIA is not only a choreographic spectacle, but an awesome party! With a VIP ticket  you and your guest will enjoy a generous cocktail hour while you wander the studios of the Rose Wagner to watch dance being created before your very eyes.
Then you’ll devour a scrumptious meal catered by Utah Food Services in the Leona Wagner Black Box Theatre.
Then it’s time to watch the newly created REGALIA_datedances on stage by 4 competing choreographers who have been selected for the experience, artistry, and wit.
After which you get to vote for your favorite to win an RDT commission for next year!
Afterwards, join the whole cast and audience on stage to dance the night away with the Joe Muscolino Band.
A seriously awesome evening.

BUY TICKETS HERE>>

Not quite in your price range? Check out the Performance Ticket for just $50. You’ll see the full performance and get to dance on stage after the show!

 

15109588_10154192988690197_7574637109403919961_nFor the undecided: ArtTix Gift card

You can purchase ArtTix gift cards so they can choose the RDT show they want to see!

Click here to purchase


 RDT-79_dan_winterdanceWinter Workshop

For the semi-professional/pre-professional dancer in your life. Check out WINTERDANCE, for the dancer who is really serious.
Students will work with RDT dancers in technique, improv, composition, and … even learn a piece to perform at RDT’s concert EMERGE, January 6-7!

Learn more>>

 


 Kneeotech Yoga/Dance Pants

If you’ve ever taken a dance class, you’ve probably had some aches in your knees. Kneeotech by Evolution Activewear has the solution. Their stylish yoga pants have knee-pads built right in. So you can take yourself to the floor with ease and not worry about your knees turning as purple as RDT’s logo. 😉

RDT endorses Kneeotech and loves wearing these awesome pants in rehearsal. Check out the RDT dancers trying them out!

LEARN MORE & PURCHASE


Support Everyone’s Favorite Dance Company

While everyone loves getting “things” …  sometimes the gift that means the most is the gift of giving back.
If RDT means a lot to you (or someone you care about), consider making a donation to help us continue to create, preserve, perform, and perpetuate the art of modern dance.
You can earmark your gift for for a variety of programs, including RDT’s school outreach throughout Utah; a particular upcoming concert; RDT’s children’s series Ring Around the Rose; or a particular upcoming commission or reconstruction.

Donate Now

 

If you’d like to make a donation in someone’s name as a gift, including a membership in RDT’s new Sustainers Club (with cool perks!), just click “This is a tribute donation” when prompted. 

THANKYOU


 

MERCHANT_PARTNERS300X300And one final idea…

If the best idea for your loved one isn’t on this list … consider SHOPPING TO SUPPORT RDT.
You can use this link to shop at some of your favorite retailers (only some of which are shown here), and RDT will get a percentage back in return!
And all you have to do is shop!
Shop to Support


Or check out the RDT Gift Shop for some awesome T-shirts!

Shop Now

Bringing RDT’s BRIO to the Classroom

Bringing RDT’s BRIO to the Classroom

Next week, RDT will perform two student matinees for close to 700 students. Before the students see BRIO, they will receive a study guide from our Education Director Lynne Larson to help them understand what they will see. Also, teachers are given lesson plans to help the students prepare for what they will see in the show. Here are some lesson plans you can try with your dance students. 


Lesson Plan—Small Area Choreography

Turf
Shapiro & Smith’s “Turf” performed by Katherine Winder and Ursula Perry.

In Turf and Jack, much of the choreography takes place in a small, defined space: In Jack, sitting or standing on a chair and in Turf, on small, large or rectangular rugs. To choreograph in small, defined spaces is a wonderful skill to develop and can lead to very innovative movement vocabulary.

  • Tape off a 2 X 4 area on the dance floor. Create as many as you can use for the number of students you have in your class. Students can work in pairs or alone.
  • Restrict the students’ movement creation to the space inside the tape.
    1. First Instruction: Create 8 gestures (a wave of the hand, a shrug of the shoulders, etc.) on various levels (high, medium and low) in the space.
    2. Second Instruction: Create 4 movements (a turn, a reach, a twist, etc.) facing different directions in the small space area.
    3. Third Instruction: Combine gestures and movements to create a phrase.
    4. Fourth Instruction: Show phrases to one another for feedback. Ask students watching what images came to mind while they were observing and also what type of sound might accompany the movement sequence.
    5. Students could then take some time to further develop their small space studies with the suggested imagery and music ideas. The same ideas could also be explored on a chair, in a big box, on a bench, etc.


Lesson Plan—Props and Dance

In the BRIO Concert, most of the dances use a prop. These props are quite ordinary and are objects found in your home and that you use every day:  blankets, chairs, and rugs. Using a prop in dance choreography can be challenging and unpredictable, but can also create wonderful movement vocabulary and images.

  • Ask the students to bring an object from home into class, something they use everyday. One of the wonderful things about props in creative dance is that we, as innovative, creative thinkers, can play and discover amazing new ways to use the prop other than the way it was intended.
    1. First Instruction: Talk with the students about the normal use of the prop and discourage them from “acting out” the normal uses of the object, but encourage them to think “outside the box” and create innovative and challenging ways to use the prop. Have them work on creating 4 unique ideas with their prop. If they would like to be in partners or groups to create, that is great. Allow each student time to create with their prop in the group, then switch to the next student to ensure all get creative work time. Once each student has 4 ideas with their prop, show to the class and give feedback.
    2. Second Instruction: Using the feedback with their 4 ideas, have students begin to develop movement phrases around their prop incorporating the innovations they already created and link them into a short movement/prop study.
      1. Ask them further questions, (for example, How is your prop introduced? What is its purpose? How does the movement relate to the prop?) to advance their studies even more.
Shapiro & Smith's "Dance With Two Army Blankets" featuring Nicholas Cendese, Joshua Larson, and Thayer Jonutz.
Shapiro & Smith’s “Dance With Two Army Blankets” featuring  Joshua Larson, Nicholas Cendese, and Thayer Jonutz.

 


 

Lesson Plan—Children’s Rhymes

In Jack and Pat-a-Cake, children’s nursery rhymes and games are used as the inspiration and accompaniment for both pieces. This is an interesting way to construct a piece using words, concepts and movements that are familiar to a large majority of our population. As in most universal experiences, rhymes and words such as the ones in Jack and Pat-a-Cake will mean different things to different people.

  • Ask the students to select a nursery rhyme that is special to them from their childhood. Have them do a little research to discover if there are variations to the rhyme, different wording, order, etc.
  • Using the text as a basis, have the students begin to develop movement motifs that represent the words of the rhyme. Once again, not “acting out” the rhyme, but taking the words and creating innovative movement from the meaning of the words.
  • Try either the mover reciting the rhyme as she/he is moving or another dancer reciting as the other moves. Show to the group.
Joanie Smith's "Jack" performed by Justin Bass and Tyler Orcutt.
Joanie Smith’s “Jack” performed by Tyler Orcutt and Justin Bass.

 

For more lesson plans and ideas about teaching in the classroom, check out the full BRIO study guide here>>

BRIO – explore the legacy of Shapiro & Smith

BRIO – explore the legacy of Shapiro & Smith

RDT has had a wonderful relationship with Danny Shapiro and Joanie Smith for many, many years.  In a few weeks, RDT’s Brio will showcase an evening of their works spanning the 20+ year relationship we’ve had.  Crowd favorites like Dance with Two Army Blankets and RDT commissions like Turf return to the stage for an evening on athleticism, daring, and adventure.

We sat down with Joanie, and one of her company dancers Scott, last year when they were in town setting JACK.  (Which also returns in Brio.) We  asked them about the legacy of Shapiro & Smith and wanted to revisit their interview.  Take a listen and join us for an evening of Shapiro & Smith masterpieces, November 17-19, 2016.

Jack Interview from RDT on Vimeo.

#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.