Miami’s Dance Legend Daniel Lewis Opens Master Classes to the Public
Wanting to honor his dance mentor, Daniel Lewis, a legend in Miami’s dance community and former Dean of the New World School of the Arts dance department, is offering master classes in the Limon Technique — forged by the modern dance pioneer José Limon — to the general public.
Lewis has been teaching outside of Miami in Alabama, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California but has never taught in his home town other than at New World. No one had ever asked him directly to teach in here, even though he’d been asked many times by people in the community when they would be able to take one of his classes.
That is, until Dance Now! Miami’s Artistic Directors Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini came up with the idea of Lewis teaching the Limon classes. They asked him and he agreed it was a great idea. “They asked if I was okay with opening them to the public and I said certainly,” said Lewis.
“This is a very special opportunity and a rare one for dancers,” said Baumgarten, “for professionals and students as well as dance lovers, to watch a dance legend in action.”
Daniel Lewis “in action” teaching a master class.
Baumgarten and Salterini have a special history with Daniel Lewis, when they first became friends while on tour with the Michael Uthoff Dance Theater between 2002 and 2004. That’s when Uthoff created a company combining professional dancers with dancers from New World, and also with Dance Now! They toured the southwest United States, and was a bonding time when the they developed a deeper professional and working relationship.
“Now Mr. Lewis is an artistic advisor to Dance Now! Miami. We have worked on the revival of what was called the Miami Dance sampler, now called the Daniel Lewis Miami Dance Sampler, in his honor,” Baumgarten said.
Lewis has also supported them by advising them on their artistic progress as well as helped them as an organization to navigate the difficult times facing contemporary dance companies. “He is a mentor to Diego and myself and an invaluable friend to Dance Now,” she said.
As for the Limon Master Classes, Lewis’ history with the José Limon Dance company dates back to when he was Limon’s protégé. He eventually became the company’s principal dancer and authored a book on the Limon Technique, so teaching this master class brings him full circle.
These master classes are part of a Dance Now! project with Daniel Lewis, where he will be re-staging two Limon duets as part of the international 70th anniversary celebration of the Limon Dance Company.
In addition, Lewis will also be re-staging a work he choreographed based on the work of Limón from just before his passing. The two weeks of classes will be followed by intense rehearsals with the Dance Now! company.
“Dance Now! dancers will be taking the classes, to better understand the nuances of the style, but we also wanted to make sure that the community at large had an opportunity to participate in this rare and unique event,” said Baumgarten.
The classes are $25 and scheduled for Feb. 10, 12 and 15 from 9-10:30 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami.
The pieces learned during the master classes will then be performed March 18 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, March 26 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium Black Box Theater and April 7 at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. www.dancenowmiami.org/daniellewis.html