Where have I heard that before?

Where have I heard that before?

This week, RDT brings together 12 choreographers to explore some of the world’s most beloved music in a whole new way. RDT’s Executive/Artistic Director, Linda C. Smith and composer Scott Killian came up with the concept of SOUNDS FAMILIAR after complaining that young people did not seem to have enough exposure to classical music. They gave 12 choreographers a list of 36 classical music pieces and let them choose what to do.

Read on to hear how some of them tackled this challenge.

MOLLY HELLER: BACH, CELLO SUITE NO. 1 IN G MAJOR

I have always been drawn to this piece of music as it simultaneously incites both fervency and calm. I am working with the song three times throughout the concert, allowing the viewer/listener to experience the recording distinctly as it’s paired with three different solo dances. I’m also interested in how repetition tests one’s familiarity with the familiar. 

I am interested in viewers experiencing three soloists working through tasks or loops of movement that are ongoing. The performers are living within three separate, but connected worlds that delineate space and highlight the real/genuine/exposed efforts of commitment. 


LUC VANIER: BEETHOVEN, SYMPHONY NO. 7 – II. ALLEGRETTO

Luc Vanier

We were given a list [of music choices] and I replied back with a shorter list taken from the first list of the pieces I’d be fine to work with. I had no other plans in mind. The music was chosen for me and the choreography is my response to the music in this day and age. 

…overall, I was inspired by a Shakespeare quote listed online on YouTube below the recording of the music: “these violent delights have violent endings.”

The process was rather quick. I spent a lot of time preparing by researching the piece in terms of history and context but then what was most beneficial were long discussions with the new media artist Kym McDaniel. I then spent a little bit of time getting to know the dancers and seeing how we could work together around the theme. The dancers created a few movement phrases. I did as well. And then I put it all together in relationship to the video and sound being created.

I would like for {the audience} to not forget that climate change is upon us even though we are all sitting down to listen and watch choreography to famous classical pieces. The title of the work is “too little too late.”


MARILYN BERRETT: BACH, BRANDENBURG CONCERTO NO. 3 – I. ALLEGRO

Marilyn Berrett

The music is fast, lively, and bouncy.  How can a choreographer help but ask the dancers to leap and jump…? a lot!

When choreographing, I enjoy working collaboratively with the dancers.  Most often, I start with an idea or concept, develop movement related to the idea and then invite the dancers to explore and develop my movement as well as invent their own through improvisation and composition.  In this case, I began with a play on the concert theme of “Sounds Familiar” with the movement prompt of “Looks Familiar.”  Choreography for me is seldom a linear approach starting at the beginning and advancing toward the end with all the movement coming out of me.  Instead, I would describe my approach as more collaborative and choreographing from the inside out!

I hope ticket holders enjoy the “family reunion romp at the park” feeling of my dance.  More ambitiously, I hope that after this concert, ticket holders will deepen their support and love for RDT and its mission.  The dancers and director of this company are truly a Utah treasure! 


NANCY CARTER: BACH, LITTLE FUGUE IN G MINOR

Bungee has a particular rhythm and feel to it, so I selected this piece because I found it to be conducive to bungee motions. Little Fugue is a bit like an ear bug to me, it gets in your head and rattles around in there, below the consciousness. When it comes to the surface it brings so much energy and focus that it is hard to ignore. Little Fugue is quite short, so that directed me to look for multiple versions. And there are some diverse ones out there! I felt inspired by seeing how different collections of instruments changed the feel of the composition. That was also how I structured the choreography; in the piece, I’ve used different iterations to shape the dance through the feeling states created by organ, a cappella, electric guitar, and orchestra.  

 I would like for audiences to see beyond the basic excitement of having dancers in the air and to actually feel how their bodies respond to what is happening on stage. I always want to encourage viewers to let go of literal interpretations when watching dance and to just let themselves be taken on the journey, arriving changed. 


SOUNDS FAMILIAR opens Thursday at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at www.arttix.org

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