Dance

Brigid Baker explores the infinite soul in newest work ‘Cloud 9’

Written By Jesús Vega
November 14, 2023 at 1:55 PM

Brigid Baker’s “Cloud9” features, from left, Isaiah González, Amy Trieger, and Meredith Barton, “Cloud9” performs at the On.Stage Black Box at the Miami Dade County Auditorium Thursday, Nov. 16, to Sunday, Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of Justin Trieger)

At the end of each dance project by Brigid Baker (choreographer, educator, and director of 6th Street Dance Studio and brigid baker wholeproject), there is charm and surprise in the audience and the promise of a continued foray into the magical kingdom of her productions.

A promise that is now fulfilled with “Cloud9,” which will be presented at the On.Stage Black Box of the Miami Dade County Auditorium at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Nov. 19.

“Cloud9,” which combines dance and music, continues previous proposals by brigid baker wholeproject, where movement, visual plenitude, and poetry lead the way and project in the dimension of other works that will follow.

But what does the expression “cloud 9” mean in English?

Although its widespread use dates back to the mid-20th century, its origins date back to the basic classification system in the 19th century, which defines cumulonimbus (the ninth cloud) as the highest in the sky, hence its connection with real life is at the most prominent point of happiness or satisfaction. Although its more literal translation does not adapt to the dynamics of our language, it is equivalent to “being in the seventh heaven.” It should not be confused with “being in the clouds,” which does not need an explanation.

Brigid baker wholeproject’s new dance endeavor has its roots in the human being and his panorama of emotions, in the human and the divine, in deep meditation and movement.

“I was obsessed with what it means to be human, in the soul that longs to be human and to experience itself in human form,” says Baker. “I then looked at human beings whose lives reflect and illuminate the path to the levels of love through actions large and small. The infinite soul is filtered as something beautiful and immortal, hence the meaning of what is proposed.”

“I follow the thread of previous works like autumn follows summer,” ” says Brigid Baker. From left: Isaiah González, Amy Trieger, and Meredith Barton.(Photo courtesy of Justin Trieger)

Another evidence of continuity is the inspiration from the work of a prominent composer. In “Meadows,” it was Thomas Meadowcroft.  “Cloud9” is a tribute to the Dutch minimalist musician Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012), and specifically to his work “Canto Ostinato,” a deep and emotional piece for piano created between 1975 and 1977 where repetition and tonality prevail. The piece exceeds two hours in length and is considered his masterpiece and starting point for later creations.

“Simeon ten Holt is a master of the minimalist legacy, but little known in the United States,” says Baker. “Durational work (works that transcend the conventional duration of time), especially when the capacity for attention has been usurped, provides valuable guidance for life.”

She continues: “Listening, experimenting, feeling small changes that end in big changes, making decisions in a way that follows what just happened before, but remembering everything that was and is currently happening, are tools for navigation on land. I think that in ‘Canto Ostinato,’ Holt reaches the pinnacle in form, and in his unique delivery of tonality that has a particular sensitivity to a type of melody, or to our human longing for melody.”

Baker says that “Cloud9” is similar to previous works, mainly because it can be identified as her own through the voice it transmits. In this project, the choreographer always looks back to move forward on the path to new forms and propositions.

“I follow the thread of previous works, like autumn follows summer,” she says. “I explore what lifts the spirit as if following the instructions on a map. And there is nature, of course, complementing the spirit. The shape of ‘Cloud9’ is infused with the shape of the music. They are interchangeable, I hope. There is a point in the composition where the music stops completely, which took me in an interesting direction. But, as indicated in the musical score, it is also in the work.”

“Cloud9” is a tribute to the Dutch minimalist musician Simeon ten Holt, and specifically to his work “Canto Ostinato.” From left, Isaiah González, Amy Trieger, and Meredith Barton. (Photo courtesy of Justin Trieger)

One characteristic that distinguishes Simeon ten Holt’s “Canto Ostinato” is the freedom it provides its performers. Property that Baker also endorses in her most recent work.

“Often, what has been written about ‘Canto’ refers to the freedom it gives performers. If it were being played, it would feel more like a responsibility to the work, which I guess is the metaphor in ‘Cloud9,'” says Baker. “Musicians are responsible for knowing and internalizing the melody and changes, and then they can improvise on that interior collectively.”

The choreographer says it requires listening “deeply to others” as well as possessing sensitivity concentration and practice.

“These characteristics distinguish the three dancers (Meredith Barton, Isaiah González, and Amy Trieger) who work on ‘Cloud9,’” adds Baker. “They are deeply committed artists who understand that responsibility and interpret the composition with refinement. The durational work also asks performers to go beyond where they thought they would go with greater skill and artistry. “I suggest the public arrive early at the theater because the play begins precisely while the spectators take their seats.”

“Meadow,” the preceding dance work, represents movement, music, and vibration. So what’s up with “Cloud9”? Does it take advantage of and mythologize that magic characteristic of Brigid Baker’s productions?

Brigid Baker presents the world premiere of her new work “Cloud9” at the Miami Dade County Auditorium. (Photo courtesy of Justin Trieger)

“Of course. I think that in ‘Cloud9’ we have brought those elements more clearly into a human approach to form, although I don’t think it becomes evident until the work is almost finished, because that is how it also happens in life,” she says. “It’s amazing how surprised we are that life ends when that’s the only thing true about life. If not, how will we live it?”

“I never have expectations with a project,” admits Baker. “If I did, I wouldn’t be able to work. I work daily on this gift given to me, to do everything in the most vulnerable way and with considerable dedication. We are fortunate to live in this blue dot traveling through space, in the heart of love.”

“Cloud9” by Brigid Baker Whole Project, with its innovative music, very personal way of dancing, and deep-rooted concept of humanity, suggests that we can also achieve the happiness of the “seventh heaven” on this planet.

WHAT: World premiere of Brigid Baker’s “Cloud9”

WHERE: On.Stage Black Box of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami

WHEN: 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 16, Friday, Nov. 17, Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19. 

COST: $25

INFORMATION: (305) 547-5414 or miamidadecountyauditorium.org

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music, and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com

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