Master of ceremonies Ken Verdoia was encouraging everyone to pay off the mayor.
Of course, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker was acting as a judge for Repertory Dance Theatre’s annual fundraising competition, "Charette," and all "bribery" was done with "RDT Funny Money."
In honor of RDT’s 45th anniversary, five alumni dancers were invited to compete for the title of Utah’s Iron Choreographer. Michael Bruce Kelly, Kim Strunk, Angela Banchero-Kelleher, Brent Schneider and Todd Allen were each assigned a group of dancers and one hour to create an original dance piece for the competition.
Allen was declared the winner of the event, held Feb. 12 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.
Linda Smith, RDT artistic and executive director, said that for any performance, there are normally four hours of work behind each minute of dance. For this one night, they turn the tables and performers are given one focused hour to create four minutes of dance.
The dancers included not only RDT performers but also talent from the University of Utah, Weber State University and Utah Valley University. After being assigned a topic for their piece, each choreographer dashed to his or her designated practice area to create something incredible.
While the performers composed and practiced their pieces, judges and audience members were encouraged to roam the practice studios to watch the work in progress. They munched on savory snacks provided by community sponsors and enjoyed the creative process. It was beautiful to watch the language of dance come to life.
Patrons then placed "bribes" with "Funny Money" to encourage judges to vote for their favorite group.
"Charette" was first held five years ago. RDT was so thrilled with its success that the event has become an annual treasure both the performers and the community anticipate.
“It is not just a fundraiser, it is a friendraiser,” Smith said. “It is a great way to get better acquainted with the art form or dance.”
Verdoia agrees, “(Charette) invites people to connect with cultural institutions in Utah and be part of a community that rallies in support of great institutions.”
The audience returned to the theater as dancers waited off stage to tout their wares. This year’s offerings included an homage to food, a historical honoring of famous choreographers, a witty disco treasury, an delightful tribute to trains and an organic accolade of the law.
While votes were tallied, RDT dancers impressed the audience with a fluid composition, “A Piece for Two Army Blankets,” that felt as if it were breathing. The smooth and vibrant movements of each dancer flowed into a silky melody.
Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. You can email her at email@example.com or follow her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.