Visions of Lake Bonneville, the red sands of Monument Valley and the rough and irregular angles of the Rocky Mountains came to life at the Capitol Theatre Friday night.
The Repertory Dance Theatre opened its 30th season with a celebration of Utah in a continuous four-work multimedia program called "Centennial Landscape Suite."RDT's nine dancers became the rippling waves of Lake Bonneville and other water sources in a revival of Ford Evans' "Watermark," which the company pre-miered earlier this year.
From a rather tranquil beginning, the work became as progressive as a mountain river, rushing and slowing in rapid and calm-water sequences. Each movement focused on the naturalistic movement of the clear liquid lifeblood that once covered this valley.
The company moved on to the living creatures in "Liquid Interior," a surreal work created in 1994 by Margret Jenkins and Ellie Klopp. Taking "Watermark's" lead, the dancers worked their way into more aquatic imagery. This time, however, the images of fish and marine vegetation weaved their way across the stage.
And, in an evolutionary move, the dancers reached toward the sky and brought other creatures such as waterfowl to the surface. Each flick of the dancers' wrists and sweeping movements could have very well symbolized migration and survival of the various animals that live in Utah's unique circle of life.
One of the night's more intense selections was Zvi Gotheiner's "Erosion," which premiered in 1993.
The company captured how a mountain is turned to dust. Just like the process of elemental sculpting, the work was busy. Amid the hands and feet pounding about, dancers slowly, but laboriously, tugged at strands of elastic across the stage. Visions of rain and wind gradually chipping away at red rock sandstone (thanks to the aid of background slides taken by John Telford), wound and spun their way in front of the audience.
Although "Erosion," for the most part, excited the audience, the night climaxed with David Parsons RDT premiere of "Summit." Dancing in front of a bold jagged Rocky Mountain backdrop, complete with thunder and lightning, the company spun and marched about in a militant and demanding display of solidness. Some dancers huddled into a mountain while the others climbed up and leaped off the interwoven group.
The performance continued without an intermission, allowing the works to form a continuous cycle. Each selection was introduced by a series a beautiful visuals taken by author/photographer Stephen Trimble put to the music of Paul Winter.
What made the night work was how most of the audience visualized the dancers as natural objects of movement instead of human beings. That happened when the company became the water, wind, crumbling rock and animals. And with an emotional tie to the landscape, the mission was accomplished.