Brazz Dance Returns With Cordel
Argentine tango and American hip hop may look completely different on the surface, but both were born from the friction of social inequality. Both dance styles served, originally, as a form of underground cultural resistance. Coming up in the following November weekends, Miami’s Brazz Dance Theater will unveil Cordel, a full-length work that takes tango and hip hop as a starting point. The piece is named after the little books sold by street vendors in Brazil (Cordel literature). Like tango and hip hop, Cordel literature is a language of the people. Brazz Dance’s artistic director Augusto Soledade has developed a signature style that infuses contemporary dance with distinctly folk or traditional influences. Thus far, he has incorporated dance languages from all over the African Diaspora — Brazil, the Caribbean and, in Cordel, the United States. Even though Soledade’s loyalties lie with Western contemporary performance, the vibrancy of his work often comes from his subtle blend of diverse cultural forms. Earlier this year, for Brazz Dance’s performance at the Arsht Center, we saw a full range of the company’s repertory works including Mistura Fina. For most of these, the African influence came in the form of movement and musical rhythm. For Cordel, though, his adaptations are more abstract. We won’t be seeing tango or hip hop as we know it. Rather, he has stripped them both down to their essential structural poetries. Set to music by Daniel Bernard Roumain, Cordel remains a contemporary piece. Cordel has been in the works for a while. This summer, during the Miami Dance Festival, Soledade presented Cordel as a project in progress. Audiences were treated to an inside look at his raw creative process. He spoke about his interpretation of tango and hip hop, and his company dancers showed how those ideas translate into movement. He intepreted tango as a game of spatial exchange — tango dancers move in intimately interlocked shapes, as one body creates space for the other to enter. From hip hop, he borrowed the idea of poetic phrasing. We saw how hip hop’s call-and-response or theme-and-variation patterns can be transposed onto to contemporary movement. His dancers riffed on each others’ gestures. While Soledade was hard at work developing the piece, he has ambitiously restructured his core group of performers. In the last few months, he has recruited new dancers who are fluent in the multiple styles found in the Brazz Dance repertory. Ilana Reynolds, one of the company’s backbone performers, will be joined by William Brown, Kamaria Dailey, and Anasthasia Grand-Pierre. Rounding out the list of talented collaborators, dancer Rudi Goblen will make a guest appearance. This new group has been training for six hours a day since September in preparation for the upcoming show. Cordel has grown into a full-blown evening-length work, and the upcoming show marks the long-awaited premier. We will also get a first look at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center’s new Lab Theater. No doubt, we can expect something fantastic. Nov. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8:30 p.m. and matinee performances Nov. 13 and 20 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($5 tickets available for ages 13 through 22, see Cultureshockmiami.com for more info). South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 S.W. 211 St., Cutler Bay. For tickets, call (305) 573-5300. For more information, visit www.smdcac.org.