WHAT RDT MEANS TO US
Our dancers' stories are just some of many that have come from RDT's 50 year legacy. In this golden anniversary year, we are especially thankful for the myriad alumni, donors, board members and patrons who have made RDT what it is today.
Thank you for being a part of this amazing enterprise. And please consider a donation to help us continue to tell America's story. RDT isn't just dance. It's our history, our dreams and the place that, in some way, all of us can call home.
Check out the RDT dancers' stories below. Then share your own at the bottom of the page.
FROM THE DANCERS
Read our full stories below
I was born in a small town in rural Guatemala, where the only main road was an hour-long horseback ride away. Even though it was very small, my town was fairly westernized due to a strong current of migration. Perhaps partly as a result, cultural heritage was not something discussed in my family.
As a first generation immigrant to the U.S. it was my duty to assimilate. I wanted success in my life and even at an early age I understood how that would happen: by becoming just like those around me. Yet, to be an “alien” in America means you are pressed to show allegiance to the new country while at the same time you can be made to feel like you’re an intruder/outsider.
As a displaced person, I lacked a sense of family heritage. The idea of a national heritage was even more far-fetched. This came to a head while I was a graduate student studying dance: often I felt puzzled and for some reason even enraged that it wasn’t enough to be in the United States to study the art form, to become embodied and expressive as an individual. I wasn’t just a dancer and an artist. There had to be an adjective in front of that: a Guatemalan, a Hispanic dancer . . . an American dancer.
I studied dance history but it wasn’t until I performed my first solo at an RDT performance (a 1940 work by choreographer Ted Shawn) that I began to see myself as part of it. That first year as a full-time company member I understood what it was to belong.
By bringing back to life these historic dances, I embodied a history that I belonged to. I now had a clear sense of heritage and something I could share with those in my life with clarity and heart. This sense of coming home continues, and in October I became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Repertory Dance Theatre is not just a job, to me it is a daily reminder that I do belong and that I have something to share that is now a part of my own history.
Efren Corado Garcia, third year dancer
RDT to me means upholding history and being apart of a legacy. To be a dancer with this company has changed my life in many ways. I remember when I started this job and being so excited that my office was a studio and that I am living out my dreams. I remember every single moment that has led me to being with RDT and I'm happy that I took so many risk and never let someone telling me "no" stop me from getting here.
RDT has boosted my confidence and reassured me that I can do this forever, be successful in it and continue to grow as an artist. RDT provides the community with honest, thought provoking and life changing work. I don't think there's a single patron who has ever left one of our shows and wasn't shocked at how the work has touched them. That's what art is all about. It's about looking into the mirror and seeing yourself in the most honest way possible. Everyone can't handle that but once they take the chance to it changes them and awakens a newer and better experience for their life. That is what RDT has done that for me and continues to.
Justin Bass, third year dancer
While completing my undergrad work I was of course introduced to Historical modern dance. While I understood the experiences and movement as important historical works, I never truly appreciated it for its true depth and value until I worked with RDT and Nina Watt in resetting the piece portraying the ravages of war in Poland. I came to adopt the passion Nina shared for the piece as she acted as a conduit for Jose Limon. I could feel his passion for the movement, what it meant to him and the pain and suffering and triumph he was conveying through the choreography, reaching from him, through her, to me. That experience lit my fire and from then on I greatly desired to professionally perform with RDT in hopes to have more opportunities to continue to grow my appreciation and love for modern dance. I am blown away every day as I continually develop a deeper love and passion for this work. I get to come to work and move with my friends here on the company, I learn to push myself, mind and body, and I leave exhausted, and excited, looking forward to sharing what we have learned with the community that makes this all possible.
Lacie Scott, second year dancer
It's one thing to touch someone's life onstage but entirely another to be in these communities, both large and small, and see the children so thoroughly enraptured by movement.
How many of these children and communities would never be exposed to creative movement if RDT didn't have the broad reaching educational mission that it does?
After one of our recent lecture demonstrations a teacher pulled me aside on our way out. She wanted to share how touched she was by the fact that two of her autistic children had been chosen to go up for Make-A-Dance. To see them so happy, relaxed, and engaged she said, was something she won't soon forget. And while I will never complain about dancing for a sold out theatre, those little moments really capture what RDT is all about for me.
Lauren Curley, second year dancer
At this point in time RDT means a great deal to me. It provides me the opportunity to pursue my artistic goals as a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. I am also able to continue my own dance education, working daily to strengthen my technical technique and artistic mind. Perhaps the most important role that RDT has provided for me thus far in my life is providing yet another place I feel very comfortable and accepted in, a home away from home.
RDT has shown me that it is possible to live as an artist while many other people have deemed it an unconquerable feat. It continues to provide me with the tools and teachings I will need to move forward in my dance career and also in life. RDT is a jewel of the Salt Lake City community, it constantly provides the people with ways in which to examine their own lives artistically. RDT has also brought an immense amount of culture to the state of Utah for the last 50 years! I believe that most of the Salt Lake community would be at a loss without RDT, the preservation of modern dance over the years has been an extreme challenge because so much of it is just cast aside and out second to the new exciting work that contemporary dance offers. However, without the past you cannot have the present and if the greats of modern dance never took the paths they did the world of dance would be very different, so in a way it is about paying our respects to our predecessors. Lecture demonstrations in the schools are filled with some of my favorite RDT moments, there is nothing more memorable or inspiring than a room full of 300 elementary kids laughing and dancing along with you. The pure joy that we bring to the students through dance, while also teaching them life long principles is an amazing is a beautiful moment to be a part of.
Dan Higgins, second year dancer
It suffices me to say that RDT marks the major trailhead of success in my life. What I mean by that is, when I reached my membership within the Company, I finally felt as though I had succeeded in my lifelong goal to become a professional dancer. My life changed at that moment, and everything started to go up. What better company to experience this with than the world-renowned, history-making environment that is RDT.
RDT has impacted my life indefinitely. I knew I was joining a group of talented artists..but what I didn't expect was to be welcomed into a family of individuals who are so much bigger than just their talents. I love my co-workers and their passion to make the world a better place through the art of dance. I love our fearless leaders who overcome obstacles we are often unaware of, and promote faith in what we are trying to accomplish within the community. I am honored to be follwoing the footsteps of some of the best dancers in the world, including dear friends and beloved mentors. The web of alumni is strong within RDT, calling upon us as current dancers to continue their hard-earned legacy. Because of RDT, I have the desire and tools necessary to become a better person, community member, and much more.
Jaclyn Brown, second year dancer
When I was a kid, the first form of dance I ever started learning was ballroom from my dad. I later transitioned into modern dance when I started high school and have stuck with it ever since. RDT has positively impacted my life in so many ways, including sharpening my technique daily and providing me with amazing opportunities to perform works I never would have otherwise. One of my favorite things to do is making kids laugh and learn at our lecture-demonstrations where we perform for elementary through high school students.
Tyler Orcutt, fourth year dancer