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Background & History

A Revolutionary Institution

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Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT), founded in 1966 in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a professional modern dance repertory company dedicated to the creation, performance, perpetuation and appreciation of modern dance. For over 50 years, RDT has pushed the boundaries of modern dance, while preserving and celebrating its legacy.

Known worldwide for its collection of dance treasures, RDT is both a museum and contemporary gallery representing the scope and diversity of modern dance, past and present. From the early pioneers of the art form to today’s cutting edge choreographers, the company maintains one of the largest collections of modern dance classics in the world. As a repository for this rich heritage, RDT is a resource center and laboratory for contemporary dancers, choreographers, visual artists, writers and composers.

In addition to public performances, RDT produces a variety of community-based programs and has a long-standing commitment to arts-in-education. Outreach activities include lectures, informal performances, teachers’ workshops, open rehearsals, annual summer workshops and year-round classes which all serve to train and ignite the creative voice in people of all ages. At its home in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, the company contributes to the cultural, social, and economic vitality of the community. RDT remains committed to building bridges of understanding that de-mystify the art of dance.

RDT's Arts in Education History

When the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was established September 1965, its impact on the arts in America was profound. The NEA developed artists, commissioned new works, and developed artist-teachers. Utah became known for its outstanding AIE programs.

lindaIn the early 1970’s, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) selected RDT to help develop model arts-in-education programs in schools throughout the nation.The funding enabled our dance company to tour nationally.

For the nine-year life of the NEA initiative, RDT toured to almost every state in the U.S.A. and it enabled us to created special curriculum driven activities related to the arts, science, the environment, language arts and social studies. Residency activities included performances, demonstrations, movement classes and professional development workshops for teachers.

When funding from the NEA expired, RDT approached the Utah State Legislature and asked for “line item” funding to make it possible for us to continue to serve K-12 students in Utah. We had developed a national reputation for our AIE services and were determined to elevate the quality of arts education in Utah.

The modest funding we received in the mid-1980’s enabled us to continue to serve Utah students. During this time, RDT collaborated with The Children’s Dance Theatre and the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company to develop dance curriculum and to write Move, Dance Learn, a resource manual for teachers that inspired the creation of Utah’s Core Curriculum for Dance.

In 1990, the Utah State Legislature awarded Line Item funding for AIE activities in the Utah schools to Utah’s three modern dance companies, Children’s Dance Theatre (now Tanner Dance) Repertory Dance Theatre and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company $25,000 each.

Other arts groups began to apply for legislative funding and eventually the groups called themselves POPS. (Professional Outreach Programs for Schools)

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POPS mission: We aspire to enhance students’ and teachers’ understanding of the essential Utah State Core Curriculum concepts, while promoting an appreciation for the aesthetics of the arts. We enrich the arts experience of students and teachers by providing high quality, innovative, interactive arts education programs. POPS is a partnership among Utah’s professional arts organizations, Utah public schools, Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Legislature, providing critical learning experiences to Utah’s students and teachers.


We Continue To:

  • Fill a crucial need in our public schools through outreach services, performances and interactive learning experiences in the arts presented by professional artists.
  • Collaborate with the Utah State Board of Education and the school community in developing, implementing, and evaluating arts education programs.
  • Offer arts education programming to every school in the state. 
  • Provide accountability in arts education by ensuring quality service, assessing impact upon students, and accounting for use of funds through the annual report to the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Legislature. 
  •  Leverage the funds received from the Utah State Legislature for a 1:1 match from private, corporate, individual, and foundation support to provide these services.   

RDT Demographics and other details

A robust evaluation/planning process, including the monitoring of changes to demographics across the state, ensures that RDT is able utilize its programs to grow relationships and create genuine connections. Working to engage Utahans statewide, RDT averages 40,000 students and teachers 279150132 3227023680866243 7878778792871961548 nengaged each year for the past 10 years – and that number is growing. With new digital methods implemented during COVID and our efforts to transition many of them to regular season programs, the company has a clear path to increasing the scope and impact of our Arts-in-Education programs. 

RDT’s arts integration/enrichment activities, classes, performances, and workshops continue to engage individuals where they live through sharing of core values. Our long-standing history of in-state touring and residencies has allowed RDT to develop programs that are sensitive to life in rural and populated urban areas. As we continue this work across the state, we see first-hand, the appetite for authentic, high-quality and engaging arts education experiences.

What People are Saying

The diversity of the dancers really spoke to my students! It was great to see boys and girls dancing, and different races. The high level of engagement was so refreshing and got students excited about thecontent.
This activity was valuable because it helped students make connections between dance, rhythm, healthy lifestyles, and expression. The students were impressed by the talent of the dancers and it was motivating to them.
Opportunities for art and expression are so limited at school but so essential and valuable for all students, especially those who struggle to learn through traditional methods. My Kindergarteners have been dancing since you left!
This was so engaging. I looked around the auditorium and every student was watching. Not one person was talking or distracted
This activity is valuable to teachers and students because it gives them a creative outlet. We need movement in the classroom to engage, energize and deepen student learning.
I got great ideas on how to incorporate movement into math and science lessons.
I loved how you made movement and exercise relatable to the students. The dancers were full of energy and there was very little down time so students stayed engaged.
Our children were captivated by the performance. They listened to you and they were learning without knowing. They usually giggle when bodies are shown and talked about. But the way you presented it was so tastefully done, they now do poses and movement around the room and outside. You brokesome barriers and they took that permission and literally ran with it!