A Space Odyssey, part 1: Beginnings
With the 5th annual Rose Exposed event next Saturday at The Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, we thought it would be a great opportunity to explore how RDT’s home base came to be. Over the next week, we’ll be posting the story as told by our very own Linda C. Smith, a founding member of RDT and the Company’s current Executive/Artistic Director. Join us and find out, first hand, how this amazing center of art and community was born.
And … be sure to join us this Saturday, August 27th for the Rose Exposed celebration of “Flight” – a night to benefit the Tracy Aviary. Click HERE for more information.
Inspired by Virginia Tanner, director of the nationally recognized Children’s Dance Theatre, the Rockefeller Foundation granted the Salt Lake community funding to establish Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT), a professional modern dance repertory company. Central to RDT’s mission was a goal to nurture the art of dance by encouraging emerging choreographers, providing commissions to renowned artists and building a living library of dance in order to preserve the art form for future generations.
Creating America’s first successful modern dance repertory company was a task that could only be adequately described in a lengthy book, but suffice it to say that the journey was filled with plenty of wonderful memories and more hard work and sacrifice than anyone wants to recall.
Fifty years later and we look with pride at our accomplishments. As cultural ambassadors for the West, RDT has helped to establish Utah as an important center for dance in the country. Audiences at home, abroad and throughout the United States have been influenced by RDT’s outstanding dancers who have performed, taught, educated and inspired thousands of individuals who now have a greater knowledge and appreciation for the art of dance.
Founded in 1966 as Artists-in Residence at the University of Utah, RDT was first housed in a World War II barracks building near the university medical center. During those first twenty-six years, RDT enjoyed a unique relationship with the academic community. The university supported RDT by providing rehearsal, production and office space and a variety of in-kind services.
Kingsbury Hall was the site for our home season performances until 1978 when the newly renovated Capitol Theatre re-opened, offering local arts groups a downtown performance venue. It was soon realized, however, that this space could not accommodate all the needs of those groups which included Ballet West and Utah Opera. RDT decided to continue rehearsing at the university, but the writing was on the wall. Repertory Dance Theatre was going to need a new home.
Join us on Tuesday 8/23 for part 2: Dreaming Big
A version of this text was first published as 2001: A Space Odyssey for RDT’s 35th anniversary in April 2001.
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.