Honoring Bill Evans
RDT is proud to honor the artistic legacy of Bill Evans this fall with our opening concert, QUADRUPLE BILL, September 29-October 1.
Bill Evans was a dancer with RDT from 1967 through 1974 and created 20 works for RDT. He enjoys an ongoing relationship with the company as a teacher, choreographer, and guest performer and serves on the RDT national advisory board.
Since 1974, Bill has become an internationally-known choreographer, performer, teacher, administrator, writer, and movement analyst. Almost 300 of Evans’ works have been performed by professional and pre-professional ballet, modern dance, and tap companies, including Bill Evans Dance Company, Ballet West, Ririe-Woodbury, Ruth Page Chicago Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, Chicago Tap Theatre, CODACO of Puebla Mexico, and many others.
In QUADRUPLE BILL, RDT will pay tribute to Evans’s immense legacy. His love of American dance and music will take the audience on a joyous artistic journey steeped in the landscapes, the stories, and the culture of the West. The concert features a wide range of his choreography created between 1973 and 2017.
Share your Story!
As we honor Bill’s legacy, we want to hear from you! What memories do you have of Bill performing? Did a piece of his choreography stick out to you? Have you taken his workshops? We want to hear all about it.
Use the comments below to share your story. We will share as part of the performance this September.
RDT Member 1973-1978,
Bill Evans Dance Company Associate Artist 1977-1980
I first came into contact with RDT and Bill Evans when the company performed at Iowa State University where I was a Theater/Speech Major, Minoring in Education. I had only recently started my dance studies, fullfilling a wish that had always been from early childhood in the back of this small town Iowa farm boy’s mind. I am not sure where the idea came from but it was always there. I was a novice dance student suddenly in love with every moment in the dance studio, this was where I always knew I was meant to be. The RDT performance, the amazing dancers and pieces presented blew my mind. This was the epitome of dance, this was what I wanted to do with my life, this was the company that I wanted to one day hopefully be a part of … that is, if I could only one day, somehow, some way, learn how to actually dance. During the performance one piece in paticular struck we with awe, I saw for the first time Bill’s piece “For Betty”. It was the most beautiful and exciting thing I had ever seen. I was enthralled and speechless. If only one day, I too could dance that dance. The company also gave a Master Class while in residence. Bill evidently saw something in me, a potential … although that must have been pretty raw potential at that time to say the least. Or just for fun, let us say a Diamond in the Rough … ok very rough. From that day forward, Bill quietly became my mentor, often orchestrating my career path from behind the scenes. He returned to Grennell College in Iowa later that year giving a week long summer workshop, which I attended. The Head of Dance Department at Iowa State University, Betty Toman, made sure I went to this workshop. Sometime only later did I realize that Bill had most certainly put a bug in her ear to make sure I did attend. This led to encouragement and scholarships to attend two 6 week RDT summer workshops in Salt Lake City. One summer he even made sure I was in his advanced tap class even though I had never tapped before in my life! Well that was a pretty sight but I just tried to keep on movin’! At least my feet kept on movin’ even if my brain was rather fried at times. He was instrumental in getting me into the University of Utah graduate dance program and during that time I would go to RDT night classes as well. At the second RDT Summer Workshop I attended, I was part of what was referred to that summer as the Mini-Company. All of us on scholarship, 6 men 6 women, all of us RDT Wannabes, were required to stay after the workshop for several weeks to be Bill’s choreographic guinea pigs, working on possible new pieces for the company. Kind of like stand-ins for the stars of RDT. Some might have called that slave labor but we were all more than delighted to sweat, grunt and chug about the dance studio for Bill for hours on end. We were young hopeful dancers in seventh heaven. I was a dancer by day even if still a waiter by night. He was always challenging me (or, just to be clear, should we say at times pushing me) to do more than I thought I could possibly do. I ate it up, I strived, I so wanted to learn to dance. Then low and behold, one day RDT (those Monarchs of the dance world) asked me to join the company. I literally fainted or maybe cried or maybe both at the same time, although not sure that is really possible. So, dear audience, before I rattle on too long, one of the first pieces I learned and performed with the company was … you guessed it, “For Betty”! My dream came true! And no doubt, I probably fainted and cried some more before getting the piece under my dance-belt. This was just the first of over 10 of Bill’s incredible pieces that I eventually performed. Thank you Bill for the guidance, the challenges, yes, the pushing too, the many years of enduring friendship, the wonderful memories and for believing in me. It has been an honor to know and work with you and to do my small bit to help bring a number of your works of art to life for audiences to enjoy. Live long and prosper, dear friend.
Jacque Lynn Bell
Bill Evans’ significance in my life feels inexpressible. I was tremendously fortunate to be under his influence from the time he taught my dance class as a young teenager at Virginia Tanners Children’s Dance Theatre, clear through my years in the Dance Department at the University of Utah. Throughout this time I was challenged, mesmerized, inspired, and completely in awe as he taught my growing body and mind the beauty and power of dance.
As I was exposed to his choreographic genius, I began to have a burning desire to speak my own truth, and in time, found the courage to communicate my own choreographic vision. Without his influence, I don’t know that I would have ever found the expression that means the most to me this day.
To my dear mentor and friend, I say thank you, Bill. I am so grateful.
Jacque Lynn Bell