Beyond Movement: Metamoto at the New World Symphony
Metamoto, the collaborative dance and music event held recently at the New World Symphony space, takes its name from the collision of two words: “meta,” meaning beyond, and con moto, a composer’s term instructing musicians to play “with motion.” It was a smart title for a night that integrated dance and music as equals. The program, curated by Lydia Bittner-Baird, included Requiem for a Mustard Seed Closes in Song, Take 2, a pairing between choreographer Letty Bassart, and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, and SET by choreographer Yara Travieso and composer Jerome Begin. A choreographer’s approach to the relationship between music and dance in some ways defines his or her creative alliances. Contemporary dance tends to split music apart from movement. On the other hand, many dance styles – from hip-hop to flamenco – are so tightly bound to rhythm that one does not wholly exist without the other. Metamoto took a bold position in the dance/music debate by giving both components full and equal artistic identity. In Miami’s new spacious and acoustically glorious symphony hall, the musicians were well-lit and visibly positioned on stage with the dancers, and their rich and resonant sounds were so intricate and compelling, with such dramatic shifts, that the music alone could have absorbed the audience’s attention for the entire night. For Requiem, Bassart selected and rearranged excerpts from a string quartet composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain. Her choreography reflected the pathos of the music, deeply articulating a mournful tone. For SET, Travieso and composer Jerome Begin worked closely from the beginning, producing a tight interlock of crescendos and full stops. Requiem and SET made sense as a pair, and there were some surprising parallels between them. Both choreographies were set on five dancers undefined by hierarchies, like an organism with different parts. Monotone costumes generalized the dancers’ forms almost to the point of androgyny. In Requiem they wore plain black clothes and, for SET, formfitting fleshy nude.