Dance NOW! Miami and Italian company Opus Ballet dance together at the Miami Theater Center

Written By Orlando Taquechel
March 8, 2024 at 1:54 PM

 Italian group Compagnia Opus Ballet (COB) will perform “The White Room” on a program with Dance NOW! Miami on Sunday, March 17 at the Miami Theater Center, Miami Shores.(Photo courtesy of Riccardo Panozzo.)

It was 2016 when Dance NOW! Miami (DNM), under the direction of its founders Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, engaged in a cultural partnership with Mexico City Ballet/Ballet Classical de Quintana Roo, responding to the stirrings in the presidential elections and the need to build walls. The Project became “Bridges NOT Walls/Puentes NO Muros”  with both companies creating work on pertinent themes and experimenting with what is now a DNM standard practice of “blended casts” (meaning, the two companies perform together in one work), dancers sharing the stage in a way rarely seen.

On Sunday, March 17, DNM and Italian group Compagnia Opus Ballet (COB), directed by Rosanna Brocanello and Daniel Tinazzi, will perform at the Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores.

The same project (“Bridges NOT Walls”) took the company to Italy in 2019, when the European refugee crisis was at a climax, especially for Italians.

“We needed to share the message of this work, and we found Compagnia Opus Ballet (COB) willing to jump into this crazy idea and create our first collaboration,” says Salterini, who adds that audiences in Florence welcomed the piece (again performed with a blended cast) as urgent and important; the companies then held an encore performance in Rome.

The dancers of Compagnia Opus Ballet (Italy) in “The White Room.” (Photo courtesy of Riccardo Panozzo.)

 The impact of a blended cast tactic is unique, both for audiences and for the performers, who especially gain an intimacy with each other that merely performing programs in a combined concert cannot bring.

Part of the exchange is that the companies come to Miami.  With the Mexico-based company, the adventure lasted two seasons, from 2016 to 2018; the first was when DNM traveled to Mexico to perform the work together, then the Mexico City Ballet performed in Miami.

The same partnership was to have happened with the Italian company. “To fulfill the project’s second stage,” says Salterini, “OBC was slated for March 2020. Of course, we all know what happened, and the concert was suspended. In June of 2021, we returned to the theaters, but Opus still could not travel, so we presented a video of them in performance. That should have concluded our exchange, but you know Hannah and I are crazy, and that was not enough for us, so we invited them to perform their work in December 2022, which they did to a wonderful audience response –and it opened the dialogue for future collaborations.”

The program at MTC includes three very different works: a new blended cast version of “Gli Altri/ The Others” (“The Others,” in Italian and in English), the revival of “Sogni” (“Dreams’) by Salterini, and the Miami premiere of fragments of the ballet “The White Room,” by Compagnia Opus Ballet.

“As we approached our 2022-2023 season, we decided to return to a project with COB, and ‘Gli Altri/The Others’ was conceived,” explains Baumgarten. “Inspired by distorted images in the style of (filmmaker Federico) Fellini, we pull back the curtain to see both the beauty and ugliness hidden behind the classes, identities, and stories of marginalized people we often choose not to know, see, or not recognize.”

Dance NOW! Miami in “Gli Altri/The Others.” On Sunday, March 17, dancers from Compagnia Opus Ballet (Italy) will perform in a blended cast version. (Photo by Simon Soong, courtesy of Dance Now! Miami)

The work, which was co-created by Salterini and Baumgarten, was performed as a solo piece by DNM in 2023 in performances in Miami, Broward and Palm Beach.

With expanded choreography by Emiliano Candiago of COB and a blended cast, DNM performed an updated version in Florence in July 2023.

“To culminate this collaboration, we are bringing COB here and presenting the work in its full version with the two companies dancing together,” says Salterini.

“Sogni,” a 20-minute ballet created in 2016, by Salterini, is also being performed in the upcoming program.

“In our new world,” Diego describes, “where so much attention is given to labeling people, this is a prime example of a work where gender does not matter. Roles originated by female dancers are now danced by male dancers, and vice versa.  Everything is topsy-turvy; everything is possible . . . It is just a dream. We decided to revive it because still, coming out of the pandemic, we need a dance that makes us laugh and smile and takes us to a joyful place. I know it does that for me, and I hope it brings audiences there as well and that they will come out with a big smile.”

The dancers of Dance NOW! Miami in “Sogni.” (Photo by Simon Soong, courtesy of Dance Now! Miami)

The piece from COB, “The White Room” is a full-length ballet inspired by “Ritorno dal bosco” (“The Return of the Forest”) by the 19th-century Italian painter Giovanni Segantini. “Segantini’s work was known throughout Europe, and he was particularly famous for his large pastoral paintings of the Alpine mountains. Choreographed by one of COB’s returning choreographers, Adriano Bolognino, the work is an interpretation of the painting, depicting a woman dragging a sled through the snow,” explains Baumgarten.

The next international venture for DNM will mostly likely be a return to Portugal . . . “with our friends from Dança em Diálogos, keeping us busy until 2026,” reveals Salterini.

WHAT: Dance NOW! Miami and the Compagnia Opus Ballet (Italy).

WHERE: Miami Theater Center, 9906 NE 2nd Ave., Miami Shores

WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, March 17

COST: $45 for general admission, $25 for Miami Shores residents, and $15 for students (with valid ID)

INFORMATION: (305) 975-8489 or 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

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