Dance

Dimensions Dance Theatre’s Program I to showcase works of 3 choreographers

Posted By Sean Erwin
November 10, 2021 at 6:10 PM

Miranda Montes de Oca and Kevin Hernandez rehearsing for “DECO: Danzón of Eclectic Cultural Origin.” (Photo courtesy of Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami)

Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami’s Paulina Zambrana step-skips across the floor on the diagonal to a slow piano ballad, arms wafting overhead, then drifting behind her back. She slow-pirouettes into a lunge, bends back deeply, then springs forward into a deliberate set of chainé turns en pointe, catching a note with each step.

She is rehearsing her solo portion in “Preludes,” a new work by South Florida choreographer and Miami City Ballet dancer Ariel Rose that’s set to debut as part of Dimensions’ Program I: “World Premieres” on Saturday, Nov. 13. The company, led by co-artistic directors Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg, is presenting three world premieres that evening at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay.

(VIDEO: DECO Trailer | October 2021)

The first, “Preludes,” embodies a “liquid quality” in the movements, designed to “imitate how human beings flow through different situations and emotions,” according to Zambrana’s partner in the piece, Dimensions dancer Maikel Hernandez.

Out of breath as she finishes her performance, Zambrana remarks that Rose has coached her “to feel like you’re swimming underwater, [as if] everything is very fluid and lush with the changes in the music.”

That music is piano work from Jorge Mejia’s 2015 album, “Preludes,” which served as inspiration for Rose’s work. (Mejia is president of the Latin division at Sony/ATV Music Publishing and a product of Miami’s New World School of the Arts.)

Next up is “DECO: Danzón of Eclectic Cultural Origin,” a collaborative piece strongly accented with features of Persian and Indian dance, whose title word, “Danzón,” is a nod to Mexican composer Arturo Márquez’s dramatic orchestral composition, “Danzón No. 2.” Supported by a Knight New Works grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Art Deco-inspired piece is the work of choreographer Kevin Jenkins,  and describes Miami’s present diversity and the myriad influences that shaped its past.

“DECO” opens with a solo by Dimensions dancer Miranda Montes de Oca, who walks toward the audience inserting pronounced hip rolls, her shoulders rolling into broad circles that sweep forward to the oboe’s melody or snap and freeze in odd angles in time to the beat tapped out on the wood block. At her side, dancers Stephan Fons, Mayrel Martinez, Selah Jane Oliver, Kevin Hernandez, Alexey Minkin and Melissa and Lyvan Verdecia form a diamond. They stretch out to their sides with their legs, as their arms trace wave patterns then sweep forward as if casting a weight.

“DECO: Danzón of Eclectic Cultural Origin” is the result of choreographer Kevin Jenkins’ fascination with Miami. (Photo courtesy of Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami)

“DECO” shows off Jenkins’ distinctive style – arms, wrists, hands and fingers moving ceaselessly, forming gestures that coordinate with off-center head tilts and pigeon-like slides. The body below the torso remains calm and grounded. The effect calls to mind classical Indian dance.

“We focused attention on coordinating hand placement and the head.  We also worked on the positions of the fingers a lot,” Oliver says, referring to how Jenkins coached them in this style.

Dimensions will also debut “Landscapes,” created by South Florida choreographer Donna Murray and inspired by the poems of Lani Scozzari.

Murray developed the work during the pandemic lockdown, with the support of an Artist Innovation Fellowship funded by the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County.

“The poems described a love affair during a road trip, where the poet described the state of the couple’s relationship using features taken from the context of each stop,” Murray says.

Murray rethought the message of the poems, putting the love first and then recast it for three couples dancing three pas de deux — the first danced by Oliver and Montes de Oca, the second by Dimensions’ Yanis Eric Pikieris and Daniel White, and the third by company newcomers Melissa and Lyvan Verdecia (the married couple danced in New York City’s Ballet Hispánico before relocating to South Florida).

Selah Jane Oliver and Miranda Montes de Oca in “Landscapes” from Donna Murray. (Photo courtesy of Simon Soong)

The duets exhibit different spaces of emotional intimacy between the couples.

For example, the piece opens to the slow notes of a cello, and Oliver and Montes de Oca sitting at the center of the room. Montes de Oca shrugs forward then reclines into Oliver’s lap. They stand and pivot, then stretch forward and embrace. Montes de Oca appears intent on containing Oliver, either by circling her or by catching her arm and pulling her back to her side. The segment ends with both dancers stretched toward the other on the floor, their cheeks touching.

As she looks forward to returning to the stage after the pandemic closures, Oliver says the pandemic has changed her approach – dance is now for fun.

“In the background is the thought: What if I can’t dance again? What if something happens? I’m trying to enjoy it rather than obsess about it being perfect.”

Click here to read our Spanish-language preview for this performance.

 

WHAT: Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami’s Program I: “World Premieres”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021

WHERE: South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay

COST: $25-$45 for general admission, $75 for VIP tickets and $10 for students with identification

SAFETY PROTOCOLS: Social-distanced seating and enhanced sanitation measures are in effect and mask wearing is “strongly encouraged” at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

INFORMATION: 786-573-5300; smdcac.org/events

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