Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) had a wonderful weekend of performing April 6-8, 2017 RDT’s Season closer DABKE, one of the dancers’ favorite pieces to perform. We had three straight nights of standing ovations, heartfelt comments from audience members, and an amazing emotional connection to the work and to the audience.
RDT dancer Efren Corado Garcia epitomizes the gratitude and enthusiasm of all of the dancers when he reported,
“We are so lucky to be able to live in a community which supports the arts in such a heartfelt manner. The audience we had the last few nights was generous, gracious and kind. I’ll always remember your engagement with the work as we poured ourselves onto the stage. Thank you from all of us!”
We will be staging an encore performance of DABKE this weekend at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, UT (April 14-15, 2017). Learn more>>
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: EMERGE
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 dances 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
And 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!
This weekend, RDT presents BRIO … an appropriate title for a concert filled with vigor, vivacity, gusto, verve, zest, enthusiasm, vitality, dynamism, animation, spirit and most of all energy.
BRIO will present five works created by two incomparable artists known asShapiro & Smith. Danial Shapiro & Joanie Smith, husband and wife, started collaborating in 1985. Fascinated by the situations and passions which shape our behavior, they made dances about real people, creating metaphors of trust, loss and cooperation. Their work is balanced by a unique blend of biting sarcasm, breathtaking physicality and emotional depth. Shapiro & Smith Dance has a reputation for performing tales of beauty and wit that run the gamut from searingly provocative to absurdly hilarious.They have earned an international reputation for virtuosity, substance, craft, and pure abandonment.
… they made dances about real people, creating metaphors of trust, loss and cooperation.
RDT became acquainted with the choreographic duo in the mid 1990’s. I was initially impressed with their remarkable method of collaboration and their inventive use of props. In 1996, RDT was able to acquire a short but unique dance featuring items from World War II army surplus.The work highlights close coordination as dancers leap, catapult, catch and soar with the aid of two vintage blankets. I never tire of watching the daring RDT dancers execute tireless and unexpected movement on the edge of chaos.
When Utah was named as the site for the 2002 Winter Olympics, I began to commission works that celebrated the spirit of human excellence, human effort and human creativity. I invited Shapiro & Smith to choreograph a work that would make a statement about the spirit of friendly competition, ownership and territory. Turf was created as part of a series of Millennium Commissions leading up to the Olympic celebration which encouraged a way of living based on the joy found in effort.
Turf was created as part of a series of Millennium Commissions leading up to the Olympic celebration which encouraged a way of living based on the joy found in effort.
We were heartbroken when Danny Shapiro died of complications from prostate cancer in 2006. Joanie kept Shapiro & Smith Dance going and began creating works on her own. RDT’s association with her continued. In 2013, we presented her Bolero on a concert honoring the strength and courage of men and women in the armed forces. Bolero is a thrill ride of a dance about the dynamic tensions that define the human experience. The dance explores the endless nature of physical struggle, from war to personal ordeal. It is a dance that demands much of those who perform it as it tests the limits of physicality. Bolero is explosive, with the dancers and momentum never letting up until after the final note.
Joanie’s distinctive wit is highlighted in two new acquisitions that put a spin on classic children’s games and nursery rhythms. Jack and Pat-a-Cake remind us that dance cannot only document history, comment on social issues and inspire a dialogue … it can also make us smile. This is a wonderful way to start celebrating the holidays.
Linda C. Smith is the Executive/Artistic Director of RDT. A founding member of the Company, she now divides her time between preparing budgets for grants and wrangling dancers in the studio. She also likes to vacuum the RDT Offices.
Good manners are about more than following musty dictates from a Victorian-era matron, but rather a show of appreciation for the hard work and time that each artist has spent to create a piece for the audience’s enjoyment.
As a lifelong theatergoer, I’ve attended everything from Broadway musicals in the Big Apple to cello recitals for my younger cousins in their parents’ living rooms. Nearly all of those performances have similar concert etiquette expectations, despite the varying types of artistic performances, and being a part of a Repertory Dance Theater audience is no different.
The following guidelines will help you and your fellow audience members enjoy each performance that much more:
Although it goes without saying, proper grooming is a plus. Strong scents and odors are distracting to your fellow audience members as well as the performers. Tall hats and beehive hairstyles may be acceptable for back row Bettys, but avoid increasing the size of your head if you have any other seat in the house.
Choose an outfit befitting the event. Far be it from me to dictate your personal style, but I think we can all agree that our concert attire should be something more than Saturday morning cleaning clothes or Sunday comfies. Remember, those performing for you have put many hours of training into this single performance, something like your Sunday best shows appreciation for the dancers’ efforts.
Buy your tickets ahead of time, come early, and leave your food outside of the theater. I’ll accept breath mints, but smacking gum (even if it is in time to the music) is unacceptable.
Contribute to the Ambiance
Refrain from talking during the performance, silence electronics, and hold applause until the end of each piece. A cacophony of sound from the audience can be distracting to the dancers and disrupt their concentration.
Sounds aren’t the only distractions! Flash photography and audience members who resemble a jack-in-the-box are also disruptive. If you must leave during a performance, try to wait until the break between pieces. To reenter the audience, wait quietly at the back of the theater until a break presents an opportunity to return to your seat.
… with knowledge about the choreographer, music, and dancers! You can find this information here on the RDT Blog, EMBARK, or on the RDT website: rdtutah.org/season and in your performance program. Putting names to faces and recognizing the stylings of a favorite choreographer add to the excitement of a live performance!
Finally, sit back and enjoy the show … and at the end? Applaud, cheer, and indulge in a good “bravo!”
Jaelynn R. Jenkins is a current board member of Repertory Dance Theater’s Board of Trustees. She loves the arts and counts RDT among her favorite extra curricular activities. In her spare time, Jaelynn is an associate attorney at Fetzer Simonsen Booth Jenkins, practicing in the areas of estate planning, business law and nonprofits.