One of the biggest demands I've received in the ol' mailbox over the years is a request to focus more on dance. --- To be fair, this blog hasn't really had a chance to focus on dance, which is something I've strived to rectify in 2011 by interviewing dance companies -- specifically, ones who don't go for the easy numbers and perform some lame version of an '80s music video because they've got nothing strong to start with. So we're going to start highlighting productions on the way that you should check out, much like we've done with theatre.
The first one we'll be featuring is the season debut from Repertory Dance Theatre. Being one of the longest-running dance companies in the country, RDT enters its 45th year this week with four productions slated for the '11-'12 season, focusing on both the past and the future during its sapphire anniversary. I got a chance to briefly interview artistic director Linda C. Smith about herself and RDT, as well as the upcoming production Vanguard, which runs from Oct. 6-8 at The Rose Wagner.
Linda C. Smith
Gavin: Hey, Linda. First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Linda: I am a Utah native who has been most fortunate in that I have had it all … a career that I had dreamed of since childhood; a family that includes my husband, Ivan Weber, sustainability consultant; my son, Evan Smith, artist and art teacher at West High School; daughter-in-law, Carolyn Redd; and two perfect grandchildren, Lucia and Moses, who are bright, inquisitive and loving. I live in the Avenues in a Victorian house built in 1894 that provides lots of opportunities to spend time renovating. I love old things … old dances, old houses, old art and music, old furniture, and history. The noted videographer Ken Burns likes to say: "You can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been." I come from a Utah pioneer heritage and am proud of my ancestors’ hard-working, adventuresome spirit. Some would call me rebellious. I would answer, "There is lots of work to do."
Gavin: What was it like for you continuing to grow as a dancer at an early age and into adulthood.
Linda: Dance has been the central focus of my life since childhood.
Gavin: Over the years, you moved up in RDT and assumed various roles including teaching, writing, producing and choreographing. At what point did you decide you wanted to assume a leadership role in RDT, and how was it for you taking on each role?
Linda: I always had many roles in RDT including dancing, administrating, writing, producing, directing, teaching and choreographing. Today, I am still guided by the mission of RDT. I am part of a team . We are a very committed group of gifted dancers and administrators who believe that dance is a very important part of community life.
Gavin: When putting together productions and bringing in new dancers, what's the process like for you each season?
Linda: RDT establishes a multiyear focus which guides the selection of repertory and season concerts. We always have a commitment to preserve the best in American dance history and commission new choreography but we use a conceptual umbrella to present the work to the public.
Gavin: Subsequently, what's it like for all of you when putting together a touring performance?
Linda: We usually present a menu to the touring presenters that always includes Time Capsule, A Century Of Dance.
Gavin: Earlier this year, the company passed its 45th anniversary, making it one of the longest-running dance companies in Utah and the country. What's your take on having that kind of longevity?
Linda: RDT is a valuable asset in the local and national community. Keeping a contemporary modern-dance repertory company alive has always been a challenge. The economy today has certainly has an impact but we continue to find creative ways to provide the highest artistic quality in programming and activities. RDT has an economic value to downtown SLC that should not be overlooked.
Gavin: Tell us a little bit about the upcoming season and the performance of Vanguard coming up this Thursday.
Linda: Vanguard features history and contemporary works and focuses on the avant-garde. Merce Cunningham was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his 70-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art.
Gavin: What can we expect from both RDT and yourself over the rest of the year?
Linda: We'll have Snapshots from Nov. 16-17, a family-friendly performance inspired by places in your neighborhood. Feb. 11, 2012, we'll have Charette: In search of RDT’s Iron Choreographers. This is RDT’s annual fundraiser that allows the audience to watch the creation of choreography in a casual and informal way. The audience can then vote for its favorite choreographer and enjoy delicious desserts while learning about the creative process. And then Passage from March 22-24.
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