Linda Smith: VOICES Artistic Statement
During our 2018-19 season, RDT has oriented its programming with an initiative titled “Manifest Diversity” that celebrates the different cultures and voices that have made modern dance a rich tapestry of the American experience.
VOICES features the work of five choreographers. Each uses a distinctive movement language to examine how we communicate, organize, and socialize; how we voice our opinions and solve our problems. Each reveals an aspect of community.
. . .
A community holds in place our identity and our values. It exhibits our
ancestry and ethnicity, our idiosyncratic qualities and group memberships.
. . . A community is a social unit, a group of living things, who have something in common.
Modern Dance is an art form that has been influenced by America’s social and cultural climate and by discoveries in science and technology. The diversity of styles and techniques in modern dance is revered. It is a dance form that is identified by its choreographers rather than its choreographic works and it is constantly re-defining itself… to tell America’s story.
VOICES highlights each aspect of RDT’s mission… to build community by creating, performing, preserving and educating.
RDT is dedicated to preservation…
Modern dance pioneers were forging new techniques and modes of expression and were intrigued by the idea that dance could be used to change the world.
Created in 1938, Passacaglia and Fugue In C Minor was one of Doris Humphrey’s great communitarian essays to show humanity in an ideal state. It has been called a masterpiece of architectural splendor with images of solidarity, spirituality, acquiescence and assertion. On the eve of World War II, the dance was inspired by the need for love, tolerance, and nobility in a world given more and more to the denial.
Humphrey believed in the “group” and saw it as having the highest potential for dance expression. She likened ensemble dance to the symphony orchestra in music and stated that the group can express more subtleties, more power, more variety than one single dancer ever could, no matter how intelligent or talented the solo dancer might be. RDT is honored to be performing with 10 guest performers from Utah Valley University to realize Humphrey’s masterpiece.
RDT is dedicated to commissioning new work…
RDT is proud to present a world premiere by Bebe Miller, whose vision of dance and performance resides in her faith in the moving body as a record of thought, experience, and beauty. EVENT is an exploration into the relationships between people, and the differences among them. Miller is an internationally renowned artist who has been called, “a tender visionary, a subtle social and political commentator.” (The Village Voice)
Bebe says: “As a choreographer, I want to communicate who we are together as humans. I am not a storyteller, but I am fascinated by ‘storiness.’ There is a story that we all can step in and out of. We are always referring to our own memories and histories. I think a lot about memories, how it works and sometimes surprises you. The serendipity of our inner actions fascinates me.
When asked about community, Bebe says, “Today, we are very concerned with who we are, how diverse we may be…diverse in attitude as well as diverse in ethnicity and politically. Finding cooperation and understanding or even a willingness to enter into a relationship is at the basis of community. We don’t know ourselves all that well. Let’s do our best and try it together.
New York City’s Bryn Cohn and RDT’s Regalia choreographic competition winner in 2018, will premiere I Give Myself, a work that explores the tensions and triumphs of how we relate amidst the complexity of our man-made world. The cornerstone of Bryn’s choreographic process is about investigating the emotional ties between people and excavating ways we all allow ourselves to be seen and ways we see others. Cohn looks at the way dancers connect and react with one another, the way they focus, see one another and see space to realize a collective humanity. Her choreography is about finding connections, finding cohesion in the world. She believes that communities are formed when you have permission to be yourself and feel safe, trust, and respect.
RDT is dedicated to perpetuating Modern Dance…
RDT strives to keep modern dance alive by performing both works new and old from our “living library.”
The return of RDT’s commission Theatre (2016) by the Gaga-inspired Israeli choreographer Danielle Agami gave RDT dancers the opportunity to re-engage with
with the Gaga movement language in a deeper way. Danielle basically re-built the work and refined the emotional impact and the physicality of Theatre. The work researches human interaction, intimacy, theatrical experiences, expression, honesty and physical exploits that bring sensation and information to the audience.
RDT is dedicated to building community…
An important prong of RDT’s mission has always been community building. Nicholas Cendese, RDT’s Artistic Associate and Interim Development Director, has been collaborating with 13 local dance teachers to recognize a community of artists that enrich the lives of countless numbers of students in Utah’s Jr and Senior High Schools. The skill and the dedication of dance teachers in our State makes us unique…and grateful. These mentors give students the tools to become creative, motivated and productive individuals.
These teachers are usually behind the scenes and don’t get the opportunity to be in the spotlight. Tonight, RDT is proud to honor their voices.
Throughout the past season, RDT has been proud to celebrate MANIFEST DIVERSITY through our commissions, workshops, children’s series, and more. VOICES will close the season as we look forward to future seasons in this ever-expanding diverse community.
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 can also be seen vacuuming the RDT Offices.