Little Haiti Moves, Pradera Collaborations
Originally published in SunPost on March 24, 2011 As we enter for spring and say goodbye to winter, we can look to dance as a ritual of transformation and change. Whether spectating or performing, dance offers an opportunity to articulate our life’s journey or simply encapsulate a moment in time. The weekend of the Spring Equinox gave Miami a diverse journey into rhythm and anti-rhythm, a playful juxtaposition of life fading and re-birthing. Friday night celebrated the first “Big Night in Little Haiti,” a free open air concert and art exhibits produced by the Little Haiti Cultural Center and the Rhythm Foundation. A large stage packed with musicians whose sounds filled the air was flanked by long time Rastamen steady rocking with the aromatic and flavorful Chef Creole holding down the other side. There was even a man onstage cloaked and crowned like a king that added a sweet touch of mysticism and playfulness. The most delicious part came in between, however: the full-bodied international blend of Haitians and non-Haitians, bohemians, art lovers, and dancers that swayed with the music, curved, stretched, and twisted the hips to Ibo, Rara, and a Pan-Caribbean mix of rhythm and beats. Beauty and power were found in the subtle facial expressions, footwork, and seamless navigation of movement that traveled among folklore, social dance, and simply standing. It was exciting to see live music move a crowd this way. The air was heavy with freedom and self-consciousness, dancing side by side. Pradera & Collaborators The following evening I attended “Pradera & Collaborators” at the Inkub8 space in Wynwood. The first piece, “Looking Back,” was a perfect performance under the super perigee moon. “Looking Back” explores the body as a container of memory, trauma, emotion and giving those interior spaces movement, rituals, and outlets. Artist Glexis Novoa created a set design that supported the high concept choreography and abstract mood. Due to the seating and layout, it was often hard to see the action inside Novoa’s geometric house onstage, which caused the audience to stand, lean or accept. Artist Gustavo Matamoros created a site-specific soundscape that created tension, discomfort, and moved the story and theme forward. The audience was pushed towards release and escape from the metallic and distortion sounds, the anti-rhythm that forced us to dig and find comfort from within. The choreography was complex and engaging. Pradera and collaborator Ilana Reynolds played with gravity and their voices, and created a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world in need of letting go. The second number of the evening “Think Like a Guy” was equally poignant and high concept, but less nihilistic. The piece was abstract but offered wonderful moments of concrete absurdism like in Lilliam Dooley’s costuming that included a bra made of protruding Latin soda bottles representing fake tits and panties with furry crotches in need of excision. The piece was an important exploration of women’s sexual identity construction, specifically Latin American women. “Think Like a Guy” had many memorable and enjoyable moments and sequences. One of my favorite sections was Priscilla Marrero’s table-top solo. It felt very in the moment and on the edge of emotion and strife. I was taken on a journey towards and against something. On top of something. I was brought into the collaboration.