Director Linda C. Smith acted as presenter and narrator for
the evening from a podium at rear stage left. The first dance
was Duets to Brazilian - Indian Music -- three
duets to recorded percussion and singing, plus a finish with
four dancers. Chien-Ying Wang is a light, graceful lady with
a long-torsoed body. She danced with middleweight-sized Thayer
Jonutz. Big, blond Chara Huckins danced with big, blond Joshua
Larson. Angela Banchero-Kelleher and Lynne Listing have contrasting,
but equally graceful styles. Lynne is bigger, and a sense of
play comes through her movements. Angela is small, and moves
with sharp dilineation, and an energy that often outshines the
lights onstage. They did a lot of tight leaps, rotations, and
turns in unison and offset timing. Nicholas Cendese joined Chien-Ying,
Thayer, and Josh in the final section.
Years of Modern Dance
RDT in Whitefish, Montana
is still winter in Montana, and it was a cold, frosty
night as we drove to Whitefish from our home in
Kalispell. The theater was a two story black box,
so the audience surrounded the performers on three
sides. The few colored lights were over the spectators'
heads, and there were mostly-white footlights on
the floor, casting tall shadows on the back wall
as the dancers moved around the space.
The audience LOVED a quartet-piece set in a supposed church
where the dancers broke decorum with a series of uncontrollable
fits of character-driven movements -- Chien-Ying was in the
lead-off spot, and got everyone laughing first. Angela, Josh,
and Nicholas followed with their own turns at-bat.
piece by Yvonne Rainer literally brought tears to my eyes --
Trio A (from The Mind is a Muscle)
started as a lecture-dem with Linda and the company, continued
with 'silent' choreography -- the dancers' bodies making all
the music -- and finished accompanied by another one of the
best records I have ever heard in my life -- The Chambers Brothers
version of In The Midnight Hour. The funky, thundering,
rolling drums in the song were counterpoints to the gentler
rhythms of the dance. The sensual soulful delivery of Lester
Chambers and his siblings balanced out the cool intellectual
demeanor of the dancers, but it all came together with flair.
(Lester's daughter Alexis C. Martinez lived here a year ago.
I am sorry she couldn't have been around to experience THIS!)
Banchero-Kelleher performed a tour-de-force solo from
Zvi Gotheiner's extended Chairs anthology
-- there seemed to be lots of energetic arms and many
swinging legs on just one body! As a matter of fact, she
was in all but two dances during the evening -- staggering
me with her stamina and precision.
Speaking of chairs, the furniture came out again in a
group for Yvonne Rainer's Chair/Pillow
dance from 1969 -- it was all tension and release,
performed in a round-robin manner to one of the greatest
records ever made: River Deep/Mountain High, as
sung by Tina Turner, in the famous Gold Star Studios with
Darlene Love, The Blossoms, Hal Blaine, and Jack Nietzche.
It was the mercurial Phil Spector's masterpiece, during
which he gave Ike Turner $10,000 to stay the hell away
from his recording session, according to rumors.
Banchero-Kelleher in motion
(Drawn from RDT publicity circa
continued until their viewers were nearly out of breath from
just watching -- but then the group strode purposefully
forward with varied looks of determination, humor, and wicked
joy upon their faces because the level of intensity was about
to take a quantum leap -- for real. Each dancer dove down and
flew up in accelerating turns and twists as the clattering drums
of the soundtrack continued to pound through a lingering climax
that shook the souls of everybody in attendance.
the intermission, the sad knowing wit of Dorothy Parker
was the soundtrack for an athletic duet between Chien-Ying
and Thayer about the trainwreck of love, as Lynne and
Joshua spoke their lines facing away from the audience,
sitting on a bench behind them. Josh stood up at the end
for a timely catch as Chien-Ying's character fell from
Thayer's broad shoulders.
I have always seen a culinary flair in the way Linda Smith
presents a dance concert, and true to form, she served
up the best thing last -- an intense percussion-driven
epic ensemble called Sky Light by Laura
Dean. It started as a series of spinning solos, then mutated
into a group dance with more spins and combinations.
Listing at the Utah Arts Festival in 1999
The applause afterward was heartfelt and happy -- this kind
of Dance/Theater was unfamiliar to most of the audience, but
they were astounded, entertained, and transformed by their experience.
I had a word or two with Linda afterward, and got to shake Angie's
hand, as she was coming out from the loading area, dragging
storage rolls for their rubber floor -- doing more work, in
other words. They had completed a three-week tour, and would
start their ten-plus hour drive to Salt Lake City at six the
C. Smith with Stephen Brown in a concert entitled "2"
Linda especially invited me to see her "perform,"
since she had retired from "dancing." The show was
a rich series of images featuring Marsha Pabalis, Melinda Evans,
Mr. Brown, and Linda -- with all her charisma intact.
personal reminisces about RDT:
When I first went to the University of Utah in the late 1960's,
Linda was married to one of my professors in the Art Department,
and helped feed us young students at picnics and social events.
She was also known as a balletic modern dancer whose solos punctuated
the highly-visual sensual intensity of RDT with her own charismatic
I bought a portable video camera, and took RDT's Dance/Video
Workshop in 1973, then spent another five years as a theater
tech in the very interesting world of Modern Dance. Linda had
been very supportive of me, and I was glad to see her sustained
power in Backstage Jitters when I returned from Europe a few
I saw RDT again in 1998, and I realized it had been 25 years
since my workshop. Linda and I renewed our acquaintenceship
with laughter at the passage of time, and I still stand in awe
of her and her company who can dance with all the subtlety,
wit, and skill which made RDT's reputation 40 years ago.
more tribute to RDT's Dancers: My transition from the Art
Department to the Dance Building at the University of Utah was
made easy because of the generosity of the accomplished dancers
who accepted me at face value and were moved at my love for
their art -- Tim Wiengard and Manzell Centers, who are unfortunately
gone; Greg Lizenberry and Bill Evans, who nodded as I hauled
my equipment back and forth, and wondered aloud where I got
all that stuff; Lynn Wimmer, and Karen Steele, who put my nervous
post-adolescent self at ease simply by being fellow co-workers
in the hustle, bustle, and sweat between dressing rooms, showers,
and stages -- rather than the goddesses I thought they were
-- which amused them, since I didn't let that worshipful attitude
defeat my good sense.
I never met her, but Joanie Moon's technique classes helped
turn the dancers in my OWN theater group into some of the best
on two continents -- especially Matt Child, Patsy Droubay, and
Katie Appenzellar/Berger. (AKA Katie Duck)
I was pleased to see my social peers join the company: Ron Ruby,
Kim Strunk, and Tina Misaka.
My talented friend Lisa Katz also did tech for them, and I can't
leave out mentioning lighting wizards Kay Burrell, "Frog,"
and the Dance Building's ever-patient Bruce Fugit, all of whom
helped turn me into a technician.
I have met and shook hands with current members Lynne Listing
and Angie Banchero-Kelleher after they danced particularly fine
performances -- such centered and relaxed people are a joy to
speak with, and I'm happy that they work in an environment that
brings out the best in them. Besides dancing they do all sorts
of other things in the company too, but that's the Theater!
I can't say I know Thayer Jonutz, but I wish him good fortune
with road-racing -- I've done that sport myself. May his feet,
knees, ankles, and back survive the many punishments of Marathon
running. Josh Larson made me laugh real hard when he mixed acting
with dancing during Stephen Brown's "Scampdance" in