Miami’s Dance Troupes Come Together in Season Kick-Off
The Little Haiti Cultural Center stage was busy last weekend with the edgy and varied performances by several Miami dance troupes during the Daniel Lewis Dance Sampler, the only event that brings the dance community together under one roof.
Before the companies took the stage, the lobby doubled as a performance space as the Atma Yoga Dance Company led by Artistic Director Colleen Farnum, presented a pre-show dance with moves that seemed to combine both yoga and gymnastics with an accompanying DJ providing the soundtrack.
As the crowd settled into the theater, Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, co-artistic directors of Dance Now! Miami, who revived The Dance Sampler with the help of founder Daniel Lewis of Miami Dance Futures, Inc., introduced the show and sent thanks yous and recognition to key folks.
Lewis was in the audience for the showcase that bears his name, an honor bestowed on him by Baumgarten and Salterini when they chose to revive the show. He shared his excitement at the packed house and the great troupes represented. “I think these were the best performances in the three years that this event’s been happening. It had the established companies as well as some independent artists,” said Lewis.
The entire mission behind the Dance Sampler is to give as many independent artists as possible the chance to perform before a dance-loving audience. “It’s very important to have more and more independent artists in smaller venues and expose them to this type of audience. It could mean they gain new followers who perhaps weren’t aware of them.”
The lights then dimmed and the passionate Ballet Flamenco La Rosa dancers took the stage accompanied by a flamenco vocalist and guitarist to kick off the show with a Spanish bang called “Alegrias.” They were followed by the hypnotic moves and music of Karen Peterson & Dancers, whose “Birds” — an excerpt from Grit –featured wheelchair-bound and able-bodied performers dancing against the projections of video artist Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez.
Audience members were then treated to the world premiere of “Fragments” by Dale Andree, featuring a female duo in contrasting black and white outfits performing fluid, unified moves in an improvisational, site-specific piece influenced by local artist Karen Rifas’ gallery string installations. Then host Dance Now! Miami presented “Awakenings,” an excerpt from their Visions of Unrest featuring seven dancers in a six-movement ballet inspired by various states of unrest.
After intermission, the avant garde Godoy/Pradera Projects got the audience thinking during their daring, work-in-progress “Untitled” that through the use of jerky, twisted moves portrayed a highly dysfunctional family. In “Watch for Morning,” two male dancers from the Repertory Dance Theatre Ensemble showed their strength and grace, carrying each other at certain points, during a piece accompanied by almost spiritual-like music.
The TOC Project’s “James: 69 Love Jigs (-64)” was an abstract piece that incorporated both dancers and singers presenting what was a blend of dance and theater with both singing and spoken word. Then Dance Now! made another appearance, this time with “Drops and Ripples,” which they described in the program as “a study on the fluidity of movement.” The two dancers on stage elegantly portrayed that description with classic ballet moves set to a racing piano piece.
Closing out the performance was the New World School of the Arts Repertory Dance Ensemble, with the Robert Battle choreographed piece “Rush Hour.”
Lewis already has his eyes on troupes for the future.
“I spoke to Rosie Herrera and she wants to be part of it next year. And Heather Maloney, who has a studio called Inkub8, is another new one that needs an audience to discover her,” he said.