SALT LAKE CITY — After having tried everything from reflux medication to special swings, Jaclyn Brown, a dancer with Repertory Dance Theatre and a new mother with a colicky baby girl, felt at a loss as to how to calm her daughter.
“Finally I was just like, ‘You know what, I’m going to move,’” Brown said. “I literally turned on Bob Marley and just started moving. And then the dancer in me was like, ‘How interesting can I make this?’”
So she began dancing around holding her baby and trying out different forms of movement. Brown said movement seemed to be the only thing that would calm her daughter, Layla, at 2 months old. But what started as a solution for soothing her baby soon became an improvisational exploration of movement.
“It’s kind of like a prop. It creates moves and ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of,” she said.
Brown credits this experience as the choreographic inspiration for her upcoming untitled piece in RDT’s program “Emerge.” Brown, along with co-choreographer and fellow mother Lacie Scott, has created a piece that is being promoted as “a theatrical peek into the life of dancing mothers,” according to RDT's website.
Scott, mother of 2-year-old Shae, said inspiration for her work in the piece came in a similar way.
“Shae asks everyday if I am going to dance and she always wants to come with, so I thought, ‘Why not create something that I could do with her?’” Scott said.
Brown and Scott’s dance is divided into two sections. The first consists of two duets where each of the mothers dances with their young daughters onstage and attempts to demonstrate the creativity and playtime that is a natural part of their role as mothers and dancers.
“You kind of have to choose which duet to watch because they overlap,” Brown said.
The second section is more somber in tone, consisting solely of the two mothers.
“It’s about how (our) relationship is with each other. It’s shown onstage that we rely on each other, we support each other, we have this network as mothers,” Brown explained.
“Emerge” is a reprise of last year’s sold-out show, featuring eight works choreographed by RDT dancers — but that doesn't mean audience members should expect to see repeat dances, said RDT Marketing Director Stephanie Perkins.
“This year has all new choreography and it’s all dancer choreography,” she said in a recent interview.
While discussing what makes this performance exciting and unique, she noted, “It’s a way to showcase our dancers and their skills.”
As part of a repertory dance company, the dancers of RDT don’t get many opportunities to choreograph and perform their own work. However, “Emerge” was created to specifically to showcase the choreography skills of its own dancers.
Brown said she has been looking forward to this performance because “it is a good opportunity to comment on dance the way that we would like to comment on dance.”
Unlike the majority of their performances, where they are required to maintain the integrity of the pieces as other choreographers have created them, this performance allows dancers, like Brown, to express their artistry.
Other pieces in “Emerge” include one by Lauren Curley that is promoted as “manipulating different numerical combinations into movement phrases to fit within the score” and “Doors” by Justin Bass, which focuses on the steps of personal journeys.
“I always look forward to Justin Bass’ pieces,” said Brown. “His stuff tends to be really quirky and different than what the regular serious modern dances are. His stuff usually brings down the house.”
Each of the eight dances will give audience members insight into the lives and thoughts of the dancers who choreographed and perform them. It’s that personal connection that Brown hopes her piece will communicate to the audience.Comment on this story
“It’s pretty rare to work full time in this profession and have children at the same time, so I think that people think that they can’t do it, and to me it’s really important to share the message that you can,” Brown said. “You can do both, you can find a way to make it work and create your own idea about how life should be.”
If you go …
What: Repertory Dance Theatre’s “Emerge”
When: Jan. 5-6, 7:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Saturday
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City