One of the biggest fundraising events for performing arts is happening on Feb. 11 at the Rose Wagner Center, as RDT presents Regalia
. In what's become an annual event, the show features four choreographers collaborating with performers on brand new works for the audience to vote on. The winner of the event will get a commission that will go towards their performance appearing next season, while the money raised by the Regalia
show will help fund that season's budget. Before the event kicks off on Saturday, we chat with RDT's Artistic Associate, Nick Cendese, about the show and what people can expect to see when attending. (All pictures provided courtesy of RDT.
Gavin: Hey Nick! First off, how have things been since we last chatted?
Hey Gavin, I don’t even remember the last time we chatted or what we talked about! Things are good here. Keeping busy with exciting RDT events, shows, productions and plans for the future.
How have things been for you as of late as the Artistic Associate?
To be honest, I love my job! I feel so lucky to get to do what I do. I loved being a dancer, but the work I am doing now on the RDT staff is just as exciting. I get to do a little bit of everything, from spending time with the RDT dancers in the studio, coaching and rehearsing pieces, traveling with the company when we tour, teaching in the elementary schools and high schools around the valley. I don’t have a single boring day, and usually get to wear many different "hats." It keeps things very interesting.
Beyond RDT, what have you been working on outside the company over the past year?
I have my own dance studio in Sandy with about 90 dancers of all ages. I love working with them to develop their own ideas about choreography, dance and art. I love working with young minds and teaching them how to think critically about the world, take what they see and rearrange it into an artistic statement that is all their own. I think the work I do to train and develop artists is so important right now in the world we live in. My students are really amazing, and whenever I show up tired, grumpy or exhausted, they give me so much energy and life! It’s a real treat to be able to spend my time with them.
Getting to the show, Regalia is returning this season. How was it running the first one?
In my time with RDT, Regalia
2016 was the largest fundraiser/event we ever put together. It was right that we do something grander for our 50th anniversary. What we were particularly happy with was the outcome. We made all of our major goals last year and heard such great things about the event that we decided to launch the event again this year—although in a bit smaller and more manageable fashion.
Did you know it would be returning immediately, or was there some discussion prior?
We did discuss what was successful and what we wanted to change if we did it again. The RDT fundraisers in my past—so in the last 15 years since I’ve been with the company—were always a mixture of friend-raisers and fund-raisers. It was great to have a large sparkling event that really focused on telling RDT’s story and raising significant funds for the work we do. Since we had one under our belt—and a successful one—we figured it was best to keep the forward momentum and not return to something with a different focus. Regalia
is a very fun event, and it is a season show for our dancers and subscribers, but people shouldn’t forget that the main goal is to raise money for our mission and the work we do. We are a non-profit, and the funds generated by this event go directly to fulfilling our mission. And, for the past two years, this has been in the form of a new commission for the RDT repertory.
For those who aren't aware, how does the Regalia competition work?
So there are two ways you can participate in the Regalia
event. First, at the gala level, we have a special cocktail hour and buffet dinner that happens before the actual Regalia
show at 8 p.m. These gala attendees get the opportunity to bid on silent auction items before everyone else, take a look at the choreography being developed before everyone else and enjoy some great food and drinks provided by Utah Food Services. Gala attendees usually show up between 5:30-6 p.m. and spend the night celebrating RDT and enjoying some great food, drink and dancing. Second, if the gala sounds too involved, you can just attend the performance and after-party. This includes one signature cocktail provided by Utah Food Services, a seat in the audience to review and watch the new works that were created that evening, and dessert and dancing on stage after the show. They get to bid in the silent auction, but do so after everyone else. It’s still a delightful way to spend your night, and to be honest, one of the best parts of the evening is the dancing to live music by the Joe Muscolino Band on the Jeanne Stage. Regardless of how you attend the event, Regalia
is a choreography competition with four local choreographers competing to win the audience’s vote. As in the past, the audience will vote with their wallet (this is a fundraiser!). Audience members can use their program/paddle to commit a certain amount of money to the choreographer of their choice. The one that raises the most money is the winner. Some people donate to each choreographer, some donate everything to the one that is their favorite. It’s a unique element to the Regalia
event that makes it very interactive and fun for everyone.
How did you go about choosing the choreographers who will participate?
We put out a call for local choreographers to submit their own work for consideration. We received 21 entries from artists across the valley. Our staff and dancers reviewed the submissions in two rounds to determine the top four artists’ submissions, and they are the ones competing on Feb. 11.
Who are the people that will be competing in this year's event?
Eric Handman, Nick Blaylock, Nichele Van Portfleet and Aubry Balley
This show also serves as your fundraiser event. How can people take part in that aspect?
Our board has done a wonderful job of putting together themed baskets for a silent auction. For example, a condo at Snowbird, a dog-lovers basket, hotel stays downtown. There is also an opportunity drawing for two really fun items: a booze wagon—which is exactly what it sounds like. And a purse that has been filled with special gift cards from various retailers. Nothing is too expensive, but we do ask people to come ready to spend money since this is a fundraiser and everything they spend goes to RDT and ours mission.
What kind of dinner and other entertainment will you have on hand this time?
We have the Joe Muscolino Band playing at the after party again this year. They are a stellar band and a local Utah institution. We are so lucky to have them to help us celebrate.
What do you hope people will get out of the show and what advice do you have for first-time attendees?
We hope that people who attend this event leave having learned something new about RDT, what we do, what we value and what we bring to the community. As an arts organization that has been here in Utah for 51 years, we are sometimes easy to overlook. Despite that, we are going strong reaching more than 47,000 people last year through our season concerts, touring events, outreach in the schools and direct work in the community. This is a great opportunity to see new modern dance first hand and
to help pick a commission for RDT’s new 2017-2018 season. Remember, the winner of Regalia
gets the opportunity to create a brand new piece for our 52nd season. Who wouldn’t want to help pick a piece that will go into RDT’s library of dances to be persevered, enjoyed and performed for years to come?
What can we expect from you over the rest of 2017?
The dancers spend the second week in January 2017 learning the rest of Zvi Gotheriner’s "Dabke." We learned and presented 22 minutes of this work for our 50th anniversary. People may not be aware that is it a 50-minute work. We are so excited to present the full work this spring. It was selected by Alastair Macaulay, a dance critic for the New York Times
, and one of his Dance Favorites for 2013. It’s an amazing evening-length show that touches on topics of gender, ethnicity, ownership, relationships and grief. It is based on a Middle Eastern folk step called the Dabke, and explores so many facets of our lives today. I’ve always loved Zvi’s work for its humanity and connection. His work often reflects the archetypal themes of our own lives. "Dabke" certainly does the same here and is, in my opinion, as good as "Chairs." If anyone knows "Chairs," they’ll know this is a huge statement. "Chairs" is a masterpiece and is one of our RDT audiences favorite works. "Dabke" is just as good—and we can’t wait to showcase it to our Utah audience.