Repertory Dance Theatre presents history of modern dance in 'Time Capsule'

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10 2012 2:00 p.m. MST

Just as in any other facet of life, there are rebels in the dance world.

In the early 1900s, a few revolutionary performers developed a radical new idea that broke through the sometimes-rigid walls of classical ballet. Discarding formed technique, perfected costumes and even the constraint of shoes, these crusaders crafted a new form of expressive movement known today as modern dance.

More than 100 years later, Repertory Dance Theatre dedicates an evening on stage to these creative innovators by presenting “Time Capsule: A Century of Dance.” This expansive program, performed November 16–17 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, pays homage to the evolution of more than a century of modern dance.

“You know, modern dance artists have always been pushing the boundaries and defying the status quo,” Linda C. Smith, RDT’s artistic director said. RDT is anxious to take on the task of sharing the progression of modern dance with local audiences.

Presenting a collection of creations that dot the timeline of the 20th century, RDT will highlight handiworks by more than a dozen choreographers including Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis — the authors of modern dance — as well as Michio Ito, Shapiro and Smith, Jose Limon, John Butler and Anna Sokolow.

“RDT’s prestigious historical repertory highlights the birth and evolution of an art form,” Stephanie Perkins, RDT’s director of public relations said. “’Time Capsule’ ties each piece to the social and political environment in which it was created … This is sure to be the most exciting history lesson you've ever had.”

But RDT wasn’t satisfied with simply bringing the beauties of modern dance to audiences, the company also longed for the chance to help young dancers develop a taste for this creative outlet.

In early November, RDT invited young dancers from the community to attend its “Passport to Performance Workshop for Young Dancers.” This course gave budding dancers between the ages of 13 and 17 the opportunity to work directly with RDT performers and to gambol across the Rose Wagner stage.

Using templates from historical choreographers including masters like Merce Cunningham, these fledgling performers also created a piece that will be presented as part of the “Time Capsule” event.

“Merce Cunningham is kind of abstract and intellectual,” Smith said. “He used chance as a medium to determine speed or density or space or orientation of the movement but it makes things look unpredictable. Some people are comfortable with that and some people aren’t.”

Performing classic creations from yesteryear exposes these students to historical dance samples and also gives them a chance to share what they have learned.

Encompassing works created by the founders of modern dance as well as pieces by post-modern and contemporary choreographers “Time Capsule” is sure to be a beautiful memoir to the life of modern dance.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://rdtutah.org/upcoming_timecapsule.html.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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