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Miami choreographer Augusto Soledade has been a fixture in the local dance world since he arrived here in 2004. His cast has shifted over the years and he continues to challenge himself artistically. Yet he has always maintained a company of talented dancers who keep his past works alive. His company, Augusto Soledade Brazzdance, has performed all over Miami and South Florida. This month the company returns to the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday.
The 2017 program is a repertory show—a reflection on the library of works the company has preserved and continues to perform. Also included are three new works, plus the well-loved Diaries of an Outlaw.
We spoke with Soledade recently about the importance of bringing the company’s past work into the present.
What is motivating you to do a repertory show?
It’s really clear to me now why I continue to pursue having a company. It’s because repertory is important to me. There’s something about seeing work in the present that was created a few years ago or a long time ago that makes it a very special experience. Just because of the nature of dance; it’s so fleeting and so ephemeral that it just disappears right before your eyes. So all of these years that I’ve been working with the company, I’ve realized, I love repertory. I’ve had the opportunity to do all the repertory with different casts.
Is it a challenge to maintain your past works over time?
Many times the dancers are different so they all bring their own individuality to the work. And I have to acknowledge that. But I work very hard trying to make sure that I’m not re-choreographing the piece as I restage it.
Which pieces will be included in the upcoming show?
I’m going to premiere a new piece called Think Blue. I started workshopping it last season. Last year I started to feel that I wanted to dedicate more time and attention to programming that is flexible, that we can perform for adults and also for children. So I created this piece that is based on a children’s book called “Why the Sky is Far Away, a Tale from Nigeria.”
Also last year I had a chance to create a solo for Manuela Sanchez, one of our senior dancers. She was going through a bit of a hard time dealing with a breakup. I felt like, “I gotta create something with this, with all these things that you are feeling, so let’s get to work.” I created a piece that we titled Turn the Page of this Book. It was really a collaboration, I worked with her to put this together. And it’s the process of dealing with heartbreak or breakup.
Then I have one other new piece that is also premiering in Miami but was created in 2010. It’s called Some Things Revealed. It was a piece that was commissioned by the Moving Current Dance Collective based in Tampa. I liked the piece, so I asked them for permission to restage the work. They were very nice and said absolutely.
You’re also showing Diaries of an Outlaw. That’s a popular work.
I decided to include Diaries of an Outlaw because I know it is a piece that people really enjoy watching. I’ve performed it quite a few times. It was created in 2004 and everywhere that we’ve performed it, we’ve gotten a very positive response.
In looking back at your past work, what are you noticing?
It’s almost like I go back to the place and time where the piece was created, and the first cast. The other aspect is to see it being done by so many different dancers over the years. I find that so amazing. To me it’s a true sense of life for a dance work.
I went to see Alvin Ailey when they were here several weeks ago, and of course they do Revelations. That was a reaffirmation of the power of repertory. It’s everyone’s favorite. It doesn’t matter that it was created I don’t know how many years ago. I believe the fact that the piece is still being performed makes people connect to it in a very special way.
These are the things that I feel when I see my own repertory. I find that connection. For instance, Diaries of an Outlaw was created in 2004. That is a long time ago. Life has changed for me, for so many people, but we can still do it. I feel it still feels very truthful to the original work, how it was performed. I really enjoy that.
Augusto Soledade’s Brazzdance, Friday, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Carnival Studio Theater, Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets $37, www.arshtcenter.org.
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