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Dance Heginbotham Combines Athleticism and Theatricality With Its Moves


Photo: The Fandango
Written by: Diana Dunbar
Article Rating

Sometimes dance seems as easy as walking down the street. John Heginbotham, founder and artistic director of Dance Heginbotham, describes his dancers as moving in an unaffected, natural manner -- dancers in the streets. This quality --plus speed, athleticism and superb technique -- are all present on the Dance Heginbotham program Saturday night at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

Dance Heginbotham’s stated mission is to stir people through dance. It does so both literally and figuratively. “I tend to make fast phrases,” explains Heginbotham. “My pieces are 80 percent fast and 20 percent internal and slow.” Heginbotham performed with the Mark Morris Group for 14 years. He formed Dance Heginbotham in 2011 and it made its world premiere at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Lola, the opener on Saturday night’s program, was commissioned by the center. With a score by Edouard Lalo, it has a Spanish flavor and is highly athletic with moments of tenderness. The costumes are colorful; reminiscence of the hues of flamenco dresses.

Angels’ Share, the second piece on the program, is a ballet commissioned by the Atlanta Ballet and is melancholic yet optimistic. The score is by the Hungarian composer Ernst von Dohnanyi.

The diversity of Heginbotham’s choreography is inspired by many sources, including watching people on the street in the company’s home base of Brooklyn. His choreography process is not driven by a formula. With Angels’ Share, for example, the process was very organized, with the music inspiring certain movements. He explains that he usually works alone at first: “in my apartment or hotel room… I’m very protective of the early part of the process.”

The next step is to move into the studio with the dancers.

Heginbotham works with a core of seven dancers, all able to approach a wide range of dance material. All are trained in ballet and the Cunningham technique. They are not “boxed in by definition.” The dancers are all graduates of university dance programs -- four from SUNY Purchase and three from Juilliard. They have worked together for several years and “speak comfortable in the same dance language,” says Heginbotham.

Heginbotham grew up in Anchorage, Alaska with parents who were devoted to the arts and exposed him to lots of it, ranging from old Hollywood musicals to such renowned companies as the Martha Graham Dance Company, Pilobolus, and Merce Cunningham Dance Company. This dichotomy may play a role in his choreography.

Collaboration with other artists is a major part of Heginbotham’s vision. Lola was first performed in collaboration with the violinist Joshua Bell. “Collaboration is a voice outside my own head…it’s a fluid and honest conversation with equals in separate departments.” The program include guest performances by the Amernet String Quartet and guitarist Marco Sartor.

The Fandango, the final work on the program, was conceived when Heginbotham heard Luigi Boccherni’s music at Tanglewood. The piece is performed in collaboration with flamenco artist Celia Fonta of Siempre Flamenco and students from Miami’s Baila Flamenco.

Dance Heginbotham presents a program rich in style, with a nod to Miami’s cultural diversity. Heginbotham is not performing in this performance – he says he is thrilled to have the dancers carry the show.

Dance Heginbotham, Saturday March 31, 8:00 p.m.; South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 St., Cutler Bay; tickets $25-$45; wwwsmdcac.org; 786-573-5300.

 


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