The Repertory Dance Theater, known as the “Nation’s oldest and most successful dance company,” visited Snow College campus as the presenter for the Convocation Arts and Lecture series on Thursday, March 3.
The Repertory Dance Theater, celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, presented a series of modern dances with narration to help the audience understand the way that modern dance has evolved over the century. Linda C. Smith, Executive Artistic Director of the Repertory Dance Theater, narrated the dancers’ performance. Smith stated, “Dance is our oldest art form. It satisfies the need for us to reach beyond ourselves to understand the connection between our minds and our spirits.” Modern dance is often performed in a contemporary way. There are a “tremendous variety” of moves that dancers can create to incorporate into their dances.
The dance team began describing the evolution of dance with a dance featuring the whole company. The narrator stated that towards the end of the nineteenth century, the influence of technology allowed for many lifestyle changes. History impacted the evolvement of dance. Women’s rights, Thomas Edison’s many inventions, and even the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad impacted the progression of American Modern Dance. The dancers treated the audience with a performance using flags to fill the space on stage.
Next, the Repertory Dance Theater performed the two sequences of arm movements choreographed by Micho Ito. These sequences were created to reflect the Yin and Yang symbol from Ito’s Japanese background. These ten movements that are involved in the sequences integrated breathing into the dance. To reflect the Yin femininity, the positions are softer while the Yang symbols are sharper. This dance was created to merge the academic style of the East with the expressive style of the West in the early nineteen hundreds.
Smith then informed the audience that as the middle of the twentieth century passed, choreographers incorporated basic movements into their dances such as walking, hopping, and prancing. They focused more on “defining space and rhythmic and dynamic change.”
As the seventies and eighties approached, works like Molissa Fenley’s “Energizer” became more physically demanding. Jaclyn Brown, Ursula Perry, Lauren Curley, and Lacie Scott performed Energizer for Snow College students. The dance is filled with precise movements that must be memorized because of the nature of the repetitive background music.
Smith finished the presentation by saying that “Dance is the international language that, yes everyone, can understand.” As human beings, we “Dance out of inner necessity” because it is about movement, and we all move.”
For more information about the Snow College Convocation Arts and Lecture Series go to snow.edu/convocation.