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CREATING DABKE: An interview with Zvi Gotheiner

CREATING DABKE: An interview with Zvi Gotheiner

Choreographer Zvi Gotheiner explores the choreography of DABKE and his relationship with RDT.

DABKE runs April 6-8, 2017 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. This video will open the show. Learn more and get tickets here

ABOUT ZVI GOTHEINER

ZVI GOTHEINER was born and raised in a kibbutz in northern Israel. Zvi began his artistic career as a gifted violinist with the Young Kibbutzim Orchestra, where he attained the rank of soloist and Concertmaster at age 15. He began dancing at 17, and soon after, formed his first performance group. Zvi arrived in New York in 1978 on a dance scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and danced with the Joyce Trisler Dance Company and Feld Ballets/NY in the US, and with Bat-Sheva Dance Company in Israel. After directing Tamar Ramle and the Jerusalem Tamar Dance Companies in Israel and the Israeli Chamber Dance Company in New York, he founded ZviDance. The Company’s performances have received critical acclaim in New York City at the Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, the Kitchen, the Angel Orensanz Foundation, the Duke on 42nd Street, Joyce Soho, the Fiorello Festival, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, and Central Park’s SummerStage, as well as a variety of experimental venues. Zvi is a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography fellowships and The National Arts Club Weiselberg Award. He has received commissions from Zurich Tanz Theater, Utah’s Repertory Dance Theater, Colloquium Contemporary Dance Exchange, the American Dance Festival, and the Joyce Theater’s Altogether Different series, Diversion The Dance Company of Wales and Groundworks in Cleveland.

 

RDT is working with Zvi on an upcoming project celebrating the Bears Ears National Monument. Learn more here>>

DABKE: the human experience

DABKE: the human experience

Folk dances can be found in countless areas around the world.  They are used as a way to build community, create a national identity, and reflect the life of a group of people.

When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, the Jewish community needed to create and establish a national identity. They did this, in part, by taking elements of Arab culture and transforming them into a new expression of their community and heritage identified with the new state.

The dabkeh–an Arab folk dance common all across the Middle East–was used to help connect Israel to the land and to an ancient past.

This folk dance combines circle and line dancing, stomping and rhythmic footwork. Usually performed in a line that circles counter-clockwise, any number of dabkeh dances found in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere are led by a dancer who can choose which way to face and what pathway to take. Each of these dance variations can be performed in celebration, at weddings, or during other joyous occasions.

No matter the country of origin, where the dance is performed, whether it is done by men only or a combination of men and women, the dabkeh dance stands as a representation of strength, power, and vigor.

Zvi Gotheiner, a New York-based Israeli choreographer, is known for immersing his audiences, as he says, “into the depth of the human experience.” His evening-length work DABKE, originally set on his own company, ZviDance, will be presented by Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) on April 6, 7, and 8, 2017 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center as the closing offering of RDT’s 51st season. Recognized by the New York Times as one of Alastair Macaulay’s TOP TEN DANCE FAVORITES OF 2013-14, DABKE is RDT’s opportunity to explore dabke and to discuss, discover, and explore what makes it so unique.

Using YouTube clips of the dabkeh as movement springboards, as well as his experience dancing the dabkeh growing up, Gotheiner, along-time collaborator with RDT, has created a contemporary dance work that explores elements of community, land, ego, identity, and internal/external conflict.

DABKE blends Middle Eastern folk dance and Arab pop music with contemporary dance vocabulary to highlight tribal and national identities … as well as to dissolve those definitions.

Gotheiner takes this folk dance and uses it as a metaphor for political conflicts, personal struggles, and community celebrations. Despite DABKE’s connection to a particular time and place, Gotheiner does not think his evening-length work should be seen only in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the recent upheavals across the Middle East of the Arab Spring in 2011.

Rather, the 50-minute work aims to break down the distinctions and representations that are so deeply connected to the dabkeh dance and replace them with a blended point-of-view and new cultural expression. In this way, the dancers themselves become part of a new world order–a community that doesn’t base their experiences on land, ownership, or power but on personal experience and expression.

Throughout the piece, dancers build connections with each other, break those connections, and shift between different styles, movement and people. Blending elements of the traditional dabkeh with contemporary dance, the dancers create a new movement language that they begin to learn as the piece progresses.

So what makes Gotheiner’s DABKE unique? Gradute student Janet Schroeder who has written at length about the work states, “The piece as a whole is fractured and fragmented, much like the relationships between Israelis, Palestinians, and other Arab neighbors. Dabke shifts from group to solo to duet, alternates between Arabic pop music and electronic music composed by Scott Killian specifically for this piece, and blends folk and contemporary dance.

“Though these divergences could feel disjointed, they lend a sense of wholeness to the piece. Using strategies of postmodern dance, this fragmentation in Dabke mirrors the complexity of the world, and it also reveals the violence inherent in such a fractured reality.”

RDT, the first company outside of ZviDance to be licensed to re-stage the work in its entirety, will explore the meanings, influences, and experience of Gothenier’s DABKE in coming posts. In particular, we will talk with the dancers about their own personal experiences learning and performing DABKE.

Be sure to get your tickets for this show soon! It’s an evening of dance you won’t want to miss.

VOYAGE: RDT takes you on a trip through World Dance

VOYAGE: RDT takes you on a trip through World Dance

Using the Utah Core Curriculum Standards for Dance, Social Studies and Language Arts, Repertory Dance Theatre presented a special matinee to over 1,500 students last week at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

American Modern Dance is a rich tapestry which has been influenced by the music and movement of cultures worldwide. Dance has been part of community life as a form of communication, empowerment, and entertainment for centuries. Rhythms and patterns gathered from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas connect the past with the present to illustrate how dance can document history and culture and tell our collective story. Take your own voyage below with some highlights of the concert. You can see excerpts from Voyage Saturday, March 11 at 11:00 AM at RDT’s Ring Around the Rose.

DANCES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE

Dance from Africa

The first dances were prayers designed to send messages to the gods … they insured a bountiful harvest and celebrated the important events in the life of the community. A birth, a marriage or a coming-of-age ceremony all involved dance. Dances were thought to give people magical power over the elements … Dances were performed to invite the sun to rise and to bring the rain.

For VOYAGE Rosie Banchero (our RDT Dance Center on Broadway African teacher) taught us a traditional West African dance that we performed with live drummers!

Photo by Sharon Kain

 

FOLK DANCE around the World and the DABKE

Dabke is a traditional folk dance found all across the Middle East. It combines circle dancing and line dancing and is widely performed at weddings and other joyous occasions. Each country in the Middle East has their own version–some similar and some very different from each other. In some countries, anyone can dance the dabke. In others, it is only allowed for either men or women to dance the dabke.  In Jordan, there are 19 different types of the dabke dance.

Folk dances can be found all over the world and were some of the first dances to bring people together in celebration. Folk dances were used to create a sense of community and mark a special occasion.  What is your heritage and ethnicity? Do you have any folk dances that connect you to your background?  Do you know any of them?

P.S. – RDT will be performing the full evening-length work by Zvi Gotheiner, DABKE, April 6-8, 2017. 

ASIAN DANCES: MICHIO ITO

Ethnic dances from Asia have inspired American choreographers. An ancient form of theater in Japan known as Kabuki is a rich blend of music, dance and pantomime. It has spectacular staging and costuming and the movement is performed in a highly stylized manner. Kabuki has been a major theatrical form in Japan for almost 4 centuries and it inspired a Japanese-American dancer named Michio Ito to create modern dances that blend movement from both Eastern and Western Cultures about 100 years ago.

Photo by Sharon Kain

EAST INDIAN DANCE

Dance in India goes back thousands of years. It is one of the oldest forms in the world. Most of the classical dance in India has developed from a type of dance/drama in which performers act out a story from Hindu mythology almost exclusively through gestures. The complexity of the footwork lies in elaborate stamping rhythms and many dancers wear bells around their ankles, supplying their own accompaniment. The torso, face, arms and hands are extremely active. The head movement emphasizing the dancer’s changing facial expressions and the movement of the torso is graceful and fluid. The movement of the hands and arms is subtle and elaborate, every gesture has a function and a meaning. Indian dancers have a vast number of gestures through which they express complex events, ideas and emotions. For example, there are 13 gestures of the head, 36 different glances, and 67 hand gestures, that can, in different combinations, yield several thousand different meanings.

Raksha Karpoor (RDT’s Dance Center on Broadway BOLLYWOOD teacher) choreographed this awesome piece for us!

Photo by Sharon Kain

STEPPIN’

Steppin’ is an African American art form, a form of percussive dance in which the entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word and hand claps. It is jazz, funk, rhythm and blues and rap without instruments.

Photo by Sharon Kain

We’ll be performing excerpts of this show on Saturday, March 11 at RDT’s Ring Around the Rose. Learn more here.

REGALIA 2017

REGALIA 2017

REGALIA 2017 was a process, a performance, and a party for the ages.

On February 11, 2017, four choreographers {Nick Blaylock, Aubry Dally, Eric Handman, and Nichele Van Portfleet} were each given 8 dancers and 4 hours to create a brand new piece of choreography. The audience was invited to watch the choreographers work in the studio, and then see the final performance in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre.

In the meantime, audience members enjoyed delicious dinner from Utah Food Services, bid on silent auction items, and chatted with friends.

After seeing each piece performed, the audience was invited to “vote with their wallets” to choose the winner. The winner was awarded a commission for RDT for the 2017-2018 season {as well as epic bragging rights.}

After totaling the votes from all the audience members, we are thrilled to announce that Nichele Van Portfleet will be creating a brand new commission for RDT next season!

To close the night, everyone was invited on stage to dance the night away {and that they did} to the sounds of the Joe Muscolino Band. 

Enjoy these photos from HMPhoto.

  

 

Just a taste of the awesome dance party at #Regalia2017 last night. One for the ages. Cheers to 51! #rdtdance #rdtutah

A post shared by Repertory Dance Theatre (@rdtutah) on

Accounting for Change at Repertory Dance Theater, part 2

Accounting for Change at Repertory Dance Theater, part 2

By Joanna L. Johnston, MBA, CPA
RDT Board Treasurer and UACPA Non-Profit Committee Member

This article was originally published in The Journal Entry, a publication of the Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants. Writes Joanna, “Since this article was published in 2014, I’ve learned so much more about Repertory Dance Theatre and the art form. Consequently, I’ve re-upped for another term as a trustee of RDT’s board. This extended stay at America’s premier repertory dance company has given me added insight into the way America’s arts organizations not only survive change but thrive because of it and how accounting professionals can be a critical part of that success.”

In part 1, Joanna, a professional CPA and Repertory Dance Theatre’s current Board Treasurer, talks about the history of modern dance, RDT, and what she feels our art from offers an audience.  In this post she talks about the challenges and unique opportunities a dance company faces as it transitions staff members and strives to keep the Company and the art form moving forward.

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Like most arts organizations … RDT must compete with other performing arts companies and entertainment outlets for audiences, sponsors and donors. Throughout the last decade of economic downturns, RDT has needed to look for new ways to recruit and retain valuable corporate and foundation sponsorships. In addition, RDT has had to evaluate its financial position and cut expenses without cutting quality. Several years ago the Company reached out to the accounting community through the UACPA [Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants] in an effort to recruit CPAs for its board of trustees. Three CPAs responded, and [as of 2014] two are still serving on the board in executive positions. Having CPAs on the board has proved to be an invaluable asset. Their awareness of current tax laws and GAAP standards have helped the organization obtain refundable small business health care credits, provide assistance with reporting issues, budget and plan for cash flow fluctuations, work with auditors throughout the audit process and act as liaisons with local and state agencies concerning public funding for the arts. The administrative staff for RDT is only five full time employees, and none are accounting professionals, so it is imperative to have CPAs on the board to advise and support the staff on financial and reporting matters.

Recently, RDT has had to confront an unanticipated succession issue. RDT’s bookkeeper for the last 13 years was diagnosed with a terminal illness in June 2013. Even though the position was only part-time, she was responsible for recording all the financial transactions including receivables, payables, payroll and tax payments. She performed reconciliations and prepared financial reports for the administrative staff and the board. She was the only member of the staff who knew how to use the accounting software, print checks and prepare the financial information and reports. When Linda Smith, RDT’s Executive Director, became aware of the bookkeeper’s illness, the Company was challenged and in need of current and accurate financial information for grant proposals and end-of-year reconciliation. There was a struggle to get the books caught up while attempting to advise other members of the staff and board treasurer how to use the software to record transactions, prepare reports and print checks.

RDT wanted to honor a dedicated employee’s years of service while recruiting a new bookkeeper. A smooth transition needed to be created to keep financial continuity in the interim. I was asked as the board treasurer to step in for a two-week period to get invoices recorded, payables paid and travel per diem checks printed for the dancers going out on tour, before another bookkeeper was hired and took over. … RDT’s new bookkeeper … [had] to adjust to new software and accounting methods that function differently. It … [took] some time before the financial process … [was] running smoothly again, but with the help of experienced CPAs on the Board, the succession [was completed.]

This situation has demonstrated to the staff and board the importance of cross-training and information- sharing in a small non-profit organization. Going forward, a plan … [was] created to ensure that more than one person knows how to perform basic financial functions within the Company, and that key personnel feel comfortable sharing those duties with other members of the staff. Currently the board and administrative members of the RDT staff are formulating a strategy that incorporates segregation of duties and contingency planning to ensure accurate financial reporting and financial stability. Meanwhile, the artistic staff continues focusing on the mission of the organization which is still, [now in its 51st year] … dedicated to the creation, preservation, performance and appreciation of modern dance.

Many people confuse the non-profit status of an organization with the organization’s goals to be profitable in order to achieve its mission. Incorporating skilled accounting professionals on the staff and on the board of a non-profit arts organization like Repertory Dance Theater help ensure financial continuity while enabling the artistic staff and performers to provide quality entertainment and educational opportunities to the community.

Joanna L. Johnston, CPA is a Tax Manager at BDO USA, LLP with a passion for non-profit arts organizations. She is the Treasurer for Repertory Dance Theater, Vice-President of Finance for the Utah Wind Symphony, as well as a member of the University of Utah Business Alumni Association Board. She can be reached at jljohnston@bdo.com