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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.

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

Accounting for Change at Repertory Dance Theater, part 1

Accounting for Change at Repertory Dance Theater, part 1

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.”

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What is Modern Dance? As a board member for Repertory Dance Theater for over five years, I still have difficulty answering that question. My typical response is “Modern dance is an emotional, free-flowing dance style that needs to be experienced. Please join me at a performance. You won’t be disappointed.”

Modern Dance was born in the early 20th century. Early modern dancers broke away from classical ballet  and other forms of “academic” dance. They focused on “self-expression” and created movement to communicate the energy, the society and sometimes the politics of the 20th century.  Costumes became less restrictive; dancers frequently performed in bare feet and were not afraid to show the effort in creating movement. In the 1930’s, pioneers such as Martha Graham focused on muscular contraction and release, resulting in movements that were sharp, jagged and “fraught with inner meaning, with excitement and surge.” Other choreographers such as Doris Humphrey, Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham and Twyla Tharp are known world-wide for developing their own individual movement languages, styles, and choreographic theories.  Today, modern dance encompasses a wide variety of influences including African-American dance, jazz, ballet, and traditional cultural dances from across the globe. It is now an international art form.

Repertory Dance Theater (RDT) was founded in 1966 through a cooperative effort between the Salt Lake City dance community, the University of Utah, and a major grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Virginia Tanner, a respected educator and director of the Children’s Dance Theater, dreamt of having a professional company of dancers dedicated to the performance, creation and preservation of American modern dance. As a founding member of the company, Linda C. Smith has strived to fulfill that dream, first as a dancer, and now as RDT’s Executive/Artistic Director. As a result of her efforts, RDT, in residence at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, has become both a museum and contemporary gallery of modern dance.

The “storefront” for many performing arts groups including RDT is public performances. However, there is so much more to the Company than meets the eye. RDT’s community outreach programs include adult dance classes [conducted at RDT’s Dance Center on Broadway], ranging from Flamenco and Jazz to African and Ballet. Summer workshops offer high school and college students opportunities to dance and create with nationally renowned choreographers. Ring Around the Rose is a monthly series of interactive performances targeted toward families to encourage understanding and appreciation for the arts. Through Arts in Education programs sponsored by the Utah State Office of Education, each year RDT dancers visit 25,000 students in elementary schools across the state demonstrating the interaction between art, history, ecology and cultural diversity through dance. Students learn new concepts in problem-solving through movement and are presented with new avenues of awareness that can improve self-confidence and provide opportunities for each student to create and explore. RDT’s extensive collections of dance works enable the dancers to tour the country throughout the year, providing national recognition for the company. Through its performances and outreach, RDT is telling America’s story through dance.

 

Come back for part 2 on Monday to learn more about the unique difficulties and challenges RDT faces each year and the special skills Joanna brings to the board as she helps steer RDT to success.

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 

#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.