A year’s worth of experimentation comes to fruition when the new dance company RawMoves debuts Thursday, June 30, in the Studio Theater in the Marriott Center for Dance. "Caught in the Act" is a collection of five works set to music ranging from Bach to techno, presented by the company's ten dancers. Some, like Ririe-Woodbury’s Juan Carlos Claudio or Repertory Dance Theatre’s Josh Larson, are familiar, favorite faces from both the professional arena and the independent market. Others are fresher faces from the modern dance department of the University of Utah.
RDT’s Nick Cendese and familiar-from-numerous-venues Natosha Washington head the company. “We’ve always worked well together,” Cendese says, noting that the pair crossed paths as students in the U's modern dance department. “On a good day, I can start a sentence, and she will finish it for me.”
Cendese said the company's motivating force was the pair's desire to explore the creation of movement and its need to say something that many young dancers in the area felt wasn’t being expressed in the works to which they were being exposed in their academic or professional lives. “We’re trying to engage our generation,” he explains, “dancers in their mid- to late 20's. I think many dancers in our age group are disillusioned with modern dance as it’s been presented in the last few years. It’s not that it’s not good dance—it’s more that the experiences of this generation are not reflected in work we’ve been doing.
“So the work on the bill includes elements that are perhaps more sensual or sexy and violent than you often see. It’s not meant to be a value judgment about our experiences—whether those experiences are good or bad. It’s just meant to reflect what those experiences are.”
The “sex and violence” quotient on the concert is not particularly excessive. Cendese says to think PG-13 rather than R or NC-17. The “violence” content, for instance, is stylized and suggested by the aggressive attack of the movement.
Cendese and Washington typically develop their pieces as a unit. Cendese characterizes Washington as the “doer” of the pair while he characterizes himself as the thinker. “Tosha will typically develop the movement phrases and I’ll manipulate them,” Cendese says. “If I think too much, it can get in the way. Tosha is very good at getting me out of that mode, of returning the sense of spontaneity and being in the moment to our work.”
Cendese and Washington do involve their dancers in their choreography so its development is somewhat collaborative, but they scrupulously avoid the metier of the choreographers who have their dancers develop an entire work, then take all the credit for the choreography themselves.
“We want to bring some concrete work to the studio when we rehearse,” he says. “But we do try to involve the dancers by having them let us know how the work feels on their bodies. Our ideas are rarely set in stone. We have two pieces that are large for work developed in the independent market — seven or eight people—but that sense of our ideas not being set in stone allowed for flexibility so we could continue to work even if people’s schedules kept them from a rehearsal.”
As RawMoves grows and evolves, Cendese says one dream he and Washington have is to take dance outside the theatrical venue. “I had this one idea of having a bar stroll where four companies like RawMoves, SBDance, RDT and RWDC would contribute a piece each, and each would be performed in a different club. Patrons would buy a single ticket and go from place to place to see each piece performed. Something like this would have the added benefit of exposing people who might not ordinarily go to see a dance concert to this art form.
“On the other hand,” he concludes, “we didn’t start out aiming toward doing a concert. We were initially more excited about the process of creation, about delving into the crafting of dance. It will be very interesting in a few years, I think, to look back on this first concert and see where we’ve gone from here.”
"Caught in the Act," the five-work debut show from the RawMoves dance company featuring music ranging from Bach to DJ Techno, runs June 30 to July 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for general admission and are available at the door.