Repertory Dance Theater visits Orcas Island

For 52 years, the Salt Lake City Repertory Dance Theatre has helped to preserve the power of dance and share it with the world. Now the nation’s oldest and most successful dance company is bringing its talents to the Orcas Center stage at 6:30 p.m. on March 8.

“We’re thrilled. It’s been several years since we performed in the area, and we remember the friendliness of the people, the beautiful scenery and the wonderful experiences we had, so we’re happy to be back,” said RDT Executive and Artistic Director Linda Smith.

The company will bring eight dancers from its Utah studio to present three major works of dance following a day full of community engagement, including time with Orcas students and seniors, the day prior. Tickets for the Repertory Dance Theatre’s show at Orcas Center are available now from or at the center’s box office. They are $29 for adults, $21 for students and $3 off for Orcas Center members. Subsidized tickets are available from the box office for $5.

“Whenever we go into a community we like to see as many people before the performance as possible, of all ages,” Smith said. “So we’ll be doing some residency activities.”

The show on March 8 will begin with a dance by José Limón titled “Mazurkas.” This 1958 piece was created to honor the spirit of Polish residents and what they experienced during World War II. With music by Frédéric Chopin, the piece introduces the company using folk dance.

“It’s a lovely way to open the concert,” Smith said. “Each piece has something to do, I think, with the spirit of community and the importance of community.”

The second of the three dances is a contemporary piece by Shapiro and Smith called “Bolero.” Smith explained she loves the choreographers’ sense of humor, energy and daring and added that the audience will recognize the pieces’ music.

The dance, Smith said, is about how communities can transcend struggles and endure together. The piece, she said, builds into a dynamic ending that again evokes a heroic spirit, much like the first dance.

“It’s one of those pieces that when it’s over – even today and I’ve seen it how many times? One hundred?” Smith said with a laugh. “But when it’s really done with passion, you just want to jump to your feet and yell ‘hooray!’”

Following intermission, the second half of the show features a piece created by choreographer and longtime RDT partner Zvi Gotheiner. The dance that the company will perform is Gotheiner’s 2012 piece “Dabke.”

“We’re thrilled to be able to do ‘Dabke,’ it’s a very powerful work. It’s also about community,” Smith said. “In this version, Zvi is inspired by that element that brings a community together. That bonds them. That gives them a unified voice.”

Smith describes “Dabke” as a dance about conflict. The piece originated as a statement on the conflict in the Middle East, but Smith sees it as more as a representation of any conflict. The contemporary dance references various Middle Eastern folk dances and utilizes traditional songs and Arab pop music.

“It does look at struggle, but it also really has a positive message of hope that we can, hopefully, see beyond the problems and work toward the solutions to understand,” Smith said.

Though all three pieces have been performed by the company many times, Smith is excited to see how the dances about community, with such a wide range of technique and music, are received.

“I think it’s just going to be a dynamite program. … Hopefully, people will really leave knowing they’ve had an intense, fabulous, moving experience,” Smith said. “We’re going to take the audience on a journey, and it’s a journey that, hopefully, is going to resonate with their own lives.”

The following community outreach events will take place on Wednesday, March 7:

– Meditation Movement Class for all from 9–10 a.m. at Emmanuel Parish Hall. For more information, call 360-376-2532.

– Lecture Demo/Movement Class for middle and high school students and the theater arts class from 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., location to be determined.

– Creative Aging Senior Movement Class from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Orcas Island Senior Center. For more information, call 360-376-2677.

– Movement Class for office workers, community foundation, for nonprofits’ staff and boards from 4 to 5:30 p.m at Emmanuel Parish Hall.

– Movement Class for business owners, Chamber of Commerce Members from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Emmanuel Parish Hall.