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Dance Professor Rachel Barker to Compete for RDT Choreography Commission

Barker’s choreography will be featured in Repertory Dance Theatre’s competition and concert March 7

Few dance companies in the U.S. would take the audacious path of holding a choreographer’s competition in which the audience determines the winner with the prize of a commission for a composition to premiere in the company’s next season. However, the format of Regalia, the largest fundraising event each year for Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT), has proven to be a winner, capped by consistently excellent premieres of new work in the following seasons.

For Regalia, five choreographers — including BYU’s Rachel Barker — will have just four and one-half hours to create and set a new work (of no more than six minutes in length) for a group of dancers they will meet for the first time. On March 7 — that same day — the four new works will be presented by RDT and other Salt Lake City area dancers at an 8 p.m. performance in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Rachel Barker

Professor Rachel Barker will compete in Repertory Dance Theatre’s ‘Regalia.’ (Wray Sinclair)

As a choreographer, Barker says she is more a “facilitator than a movement generator.” As an artist, teacher and researcher in the Brigham Young University’s department of dance, she starts with ideas arising from the boundaries of a space — for example, a bedroom. “As a teacher, I learned the best way to create movement for my students is to encourage them to tap into their bodies and express their own talents and characteristics in making the material for a dance,” she explains. Among her influences are choreographer Bebe Miller, who starts with observing how the dancers improvise, first individually and then as partners.

Barker says she is thrilled by the prospects of Regalia, which can be as exciting from a communal perspective as a Wii digital game dance-off or a flash mob in a public space, because it brings non-dancers into the heart of the event. “It’s so accessible to the audience, who can offer their opinions and decide which choreographer wins,” she adds.

Read the full story by Les Roka at