MEET DELMA ILES Founder and Artistic Director of Momentum Dance Company
Miami Dances features insight into traditional and nontraditional dance programs, performers and choreographers that make Miami’s dance scene special.
In this post we feature, accomplished dance professional Delma Iles, founder and artistic director of Momentum Dance Company. Founded in 1982, under her leadership, the company has performed in France, Mexico, the Bahamas and at the National Dance Week New York Festival. She created the nationally recognized Miami Dance Festival in 2003 which has grown into a six-week event that attracts national and international artists. Among her many accomplishments are winning two Florida Artist Fellowships in dance and a Daytime Emmy for children’s programming as well as being awarded a Rotary Foundation Fellowship grant, Miami-Dade County Cultural Alliance Advancement grants and three Creative Capital artist development grants. She was also honored with the Phi Theta Kappa Award for excellence in teaching awarded by the students at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, and the Doris Leeper Award for outstanding contributions to arts education in Florida, awarded by the statewide arts advocacy group Arts for A Complete Education.
ABC: Tell us about your journey as a dancer, choreographer and arts executive.
DI: Telling you my journey, that would take a book and some day I will write one!
ABC: Who was your biggest influence in your journey as a dancer?
DI: My most influential teachers were Judith Newman for ballet, James Truitte for modern dance and Jack Cole for jazz. My most important choreography teacher and mentor was Anna Sokolow.
ABC: What excites you about Miami?
Miami is a truly exciting city and although it is sometimes exasperating it is never boring! I love being in an international city and working with people from different cultures and hearing a variety of languages spoken every day. I enjoy the variety of music, food, films and other cultural activities that could only happen here. It is great to be on the water and to be inspired by our beautiful natural environment every day. Things happen here that could never happen anywhere else.
ABC: Tell me about your company Momentum Dance.
DI: I am the Artistic Director and Founder of Momentum Dance Company. Founded in 1982, it is one of the oldest and best established contemporary dance companies in the Southeastern U.S. Momentum is dedicated to producing new work, and has premiered over 100 new works to date, primarily by Miami-based choreographers. These range from mainstream modern dance, to jazz, to avant garde and experimental, to comic. Additionally, in order to provide South Florida with a context for viewing and understanding modern dance, we include one reconstruction of an historic work each year. We have performed works by Doris Humphrey (her 1938 work,Water Study, has become closely associated with Momentum), Jose Limon, Eleanor King, Isadora Duncan, and Anna Sokolow. This season we brought back Anna Sokolow’sPoems of Scriabin, which she created especially for us in 1984.
We also specialize in dance education and provide an extensive outreach program that reaches students in three public school settings and the Carrie Meek Community Center in Liberty City, providing free dance instruction to economically disadvantaged and at-risk kids ages 4-16. Additionally, Momentum presents a series of four performances especially for ages 4-10 and their families at both the Coral Gables Public Library and the Miami Beach Regional Library. These are offered to the public free of charge. We create one new children’s ballet each year to present in the series. This year the company performed Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin,and the new children’s work wasThe Magic Toy Shop.The Miami-Dade Public Library System likes our family programming so much that they often invite us to perform in other libraries countywide.
We enjoy collaborating with artists from other disciplines and creating site-specific work. This season we collaborated with bluesman Rob “Wild Boar” Moore, percussionist J.J. Freire, and classical pianist Dr. Alan Ngim. We also are planning a site specific work to be performed on the MetroMover. And, just for fun, we create a new water ballet every year
ABC: What is something awesome that you are currently working on?
DI: As our season is winding down, we are not working on anything new at the moment, but next season we will be working on a collaboration with a group of local poets. In addition, we will commission a score for a new children’s ballet about insects and I am conceptualizing a new comic work utilizing bubble wrap. I am also trying to figure out how to produce a car ballet (inspired by the horse ballets of the 19th century) I just keep running into insurance problems!
ABC: From your perspective how can we leverage the arts to build a more connected community?
DI: I think that arts and culture are the best way to create a more connected community!
About Miami Dances Blog
Miami is home to exceptional dance companies, dance performances and dance events. Miami Dances is an Arts & Business Council initiative that helps build new audiences and create visibility for dance in our community. The blog will feature local dance legends, up and comers and dance insiders. Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/MiamiDances to get all the inside scoop on dance in Miami. Visit our blog salon www.ArtsBizMiami.org