"COMING HOME: CELEBRATING OUR ROOTS," Children's Dance Theatre, Capitol Theatre, Feb. 27, additional performance Feb. 28, 801-355-2787
Six decades ago, Virginia Tanner founded the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance program, which is still going strong.
In honor of visionary Tanner, the Children's Dance Theatre, the performing company of the Tanner dance program presented "Coming Home: Celebrating Our Roots" at the Capitol Theatre.
Setting aside the story-book adaptations CDT usually does for its annual program, the company celebrated the life of Tanner.
The production was flawless. Dance for the sake of dance covered the stage. Dancers of all ages seamlessly interacted with each other and gave the audience an evening's worth of joyful movement.
Innocence, excitement and confidence burst from the young dancers throughout the 13 works choreographed by the Tanner faculty. Lifts, leaps, spins and balances were part of the visual experience that was highlighted by bold-colored costumes created by Nancy Cook and Cynthia and Wendy Turner.
The bright and positive music that accompanied the dancing was created by Tristan Moore and performed live by Moore and a handful of musicians. Throughout the performance, narration by Anne Decker, Isabel Hill, Lauren Jones, Sam Smith, the aforementioned Terry, Dylan Vessel, Oliva Vessel and Alyssa Wilson, gave the words written by Tanner dance students past and present life, as the transitions between the dances continued on stage.
The use of empty water bottles, bubble wrap and umbrellas added dimension to the delightful production.
Four selections started off the performance and provided the show with a themed tone. Tanner's own "The Joy of Roots and Wings," Jacque Lynn Bell's "Wackadoodle." Ann Carter and Misha Bergman's "Looking Back" and CDT artistic director Mary Ann Lee's "Exuberance" brought the past into the present with dynamic dances showcasing the joy, reverence, quirkiness and artistry of the Tanner training.
In fact, "Wackadoodle," in which many Tanner dance alumni — including Repertory Dance Theatre artistic director Linda C. Smith — appeared, was the more direct in showcasing the tribute to Tanner. However, all the dances were strong and all were executed with energy and love.
It will be fun to see what's in store for the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Program in the next 60 years.