Friday, Oct. 15, 2021
SALT LAKE CITY — On Oct. 8, the Madeleine Arts & Humanities Council honored Linda C. Smith, Repertory Dance Theatre executive/artistic director, for her many contributions to the arts in the Salt Lake community.
Smith had been chosen to receive the 2020 Madeleine Award for Arts & Humanities, but due to the pandemic the festival and its related events were canceled. This year, the festival awards committee decided to refrain from choosing a 2021 honoree and instead dedicated the event to presenting the 2020 award.
During the Oct. 8 awards dinner, Madeleine Festival committee members, staff, family and friends gathered at the Alta Club to pay tribute to Smith for her contributions to the arts in Utah. Those present included Father Martin Diaz, rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine; Monsignor Joseph M. Mayo, former rector of the cathedral; and members of Repertory Dance Theatre.
Smith was a founding member of Repertory Dance Theatre, where she worked as a performer, teacher, choreographer, writer and producer for 17 years before being named artistic director, a position she has held since then. A graduate of the University of Utah, where she now is an adjunct associate professor of dance, Smith has a long list of contributions to RDT, including the development of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center and the establishment of the RDT Community School.
“It’s a monumental time in my life,” Smith said of receiving the award. “I have so much respect for the cathedral humanities and art festival. RDT has performed in the cathedral a number of times, and it is one of the most wonderful experiences. What they do for the arts and gathering people together in that beautiful space is so important and to think that they would honor me is really thrilling.”
Smith recalled many RDT performances at the cathedral, such as one called “The Incense,” which she danced herself. In that piece, the dancer becomes the smoke in the incense, sending the prayer to heaven.
“I was beginning the performance with my incense, and I looked up and there was the beautiful rose window and the light streaming through it, and I thought I had ascended into heaven,” she said. “It was just sacred and magical at the same time.”
As part of the dinner program, Mary Ann Lee, a Madeleine Festival committee member and longtime associate of Smith’s, paid tribute to her with a biographical sketch and video.
“You have inspired us as an artist, a teacher, a mentor, an innovator and a woman who continues to show us through your incredible achievements that anything is possible,” Lee said.
Fr. Diaz presented the award to Smith.
“Dance, music and literature is so important,” Fr. Diaz said. “You know that I am in the soul business, and, of course, we relate best to the arts because the soul is really touched through the arts, and I think, as you so well know, when a person is touched in their soul by the arts it’s so easy to bring that to understand that which is indescribable – religion is what we call it eventually. I want to thank all of you for all that you do in the area of the arts. It’s just so important to our society, to our civilization, to be in the arts.”