South Florida’s 2023-24 season of dance is non stop and full of surprises
Arts Ballet Theatre’s “Le Papillon” with Janis Liu is one of the highlights of the upcoming South Florida dance season. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Laine Romero)
In the months ahead, sorcery will make nights crackle as fantastic creatures spin and scamper through the woods. Journeys across oceans will lead to the intrigue of tango and Iberian ardor. And journeys across time will reintroduce eccentric Victorians and legendary heroes. Eminent, too, are amorous entanglements, toilsome clashes—and sheer displays of skill and vigor that’ll make you cheer for loose-limbed, swift-footed Olympians. These are not the dubious predictions of a fortune-teller but the sure promise of dance coming to South Florida.
For the 2023-24 season, Miami City Ballet has anchored each of its four programs with heavyweights, still letting rising choreographers stir expectations.
Balanchine’s rapturous “Serenade” to Tchaikovsky, his fairy-tale “Firebird,” with Jerome Robbins choreography adding color to the phantasmagoric pageantry, and his athletic “Agon”—those last two ballets to Stravinsky—arrive respectively in October, February, and March. Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” also storms through in Program 1, and Alonzo King’s “Following the Subtle Current Upstream,” marks a company first in Program 3.
To accompany these, MCB offers world premieres, including (for the Fall) “Sea Change” by Jamar Roberts, Miami favorite son and former resident choreographer at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and (for the Winter) a new ballet to Paganini by Durante Verzola, MCB School faculty member and wunderkind.
In April through May, the company sails on Alexei Ratmansky’s “Swan Lake,” its studied vintage look leaping from the archives with a refreshed vitality.
Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami continues to flavor classicism with robust spices. In a November program international aromas waft in from the world premiere of Leonardo Reale’s “Tangos del Cristal” and the company’s first staging of Cuban choreographer Jorge García’s “Majísimo,” costumed and animated in the alluring spirit of Spain. Reale mines his native know-how of tango’s intimacies to amplify them in a ballet to Mariano Mores’ memorable compositions, some to be played live on the piano by his grandson Gabriel Mores. Company member Yanis Eric Pikieris whisks fellow dancers away to explore a scintillating space in “Voyager,” his premiere to an ethereal Oliver Davis concerto. DDTM’s Salon Series at the Moss Cultural Arts Center in February gives a sneak-peek at works-in-progress.
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, whose director Vladimir Issaev recently received a lifetime achievement award from the International Ballet Festival of Miami (that yearly event returns next summer), is keeping a spotlight on historical repertory. Issaev’s stagings of the whimsical flutters of “Le Papillon, originating at the Paris Opera in the 19th century, and of “Petrouchka” and “Le Spectre de la Rose”—among early 20th century standards from Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes—will brighten winter and spring by turn.
But first, there’s Hispanic passion and pride this October with Yanis Pikieris’ “Danzón” and Issaev’s own “Inspired by Love,” a world premiere based on the soul-to-soul letters between revolutionary Manuela Sáenz and South American liberator Simón Bolívar.
DanceNOW!Miami makes good on the exclamation point in its name revisiting Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” through the side entry of the ruined and ruinous life of Miss Havisham, the novel’s disturbingly gothic character. As a dance-theater, site-specific premiere, “Havisham!” will guide the audience, accompanied by selections from the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, through North Miami Beach’s Ancient Spanish Monastery in February, ultimately replacing the withered bouquet of the story’s betrayed bride with fresh flowers of compassion and grace.
Major in DNM’s profile are partnerships with foreign companies. In March, Opus Ballet from Florence, Italy, joins in for “Gli Altri/The Others,” DNM company directors Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini’s evocation of Federico Fellini’s planet of drifters and outcasts, with Nino Rota’s lush film scores supplying oxygen. Then also—and thanks to Michael Uthoff’s choreography to Astor Piazzolla—the company premiere of “A Media Luz” offers a first-class seat to Argentina. And the season concludes in May with “Pop,” a world premiere to reconceived ’80s and ’90s top-of-the-chart, tug-at-your-heart songs; “SOgni … ,” traipsing through dreamland; and “House on Fire”—don’t call the firefighters unless they’d like to get into the sexy action.
With its circuits on wheelchairs and maverick gaits, physically integrated dance—embracing differently-abled artists—can make of very particular moves—in lust, alarm, serenity—the lexicon of a universal language. For years now, Karen Peterson Dancers has shown us how that’s done, especially during the Forward Motion Dance Festival and Conference. Its fifth edition, slated for March, includes a collaboration with The Spirit of Goodwill Band and works from an array of emerging choreographers, Peterson, and Mark Travis Rivera, whose all-embracing humanity is informed by a Latinx queer identity.
Look out for other groups and their leaders who forge independent courses. Prominently, there’s Pioneer Winter with his Collective tending to an inventive ecosystem that makes the unorthodox—free of gender, age, and sexual restrictions—a central human resource. In November its “Birds of Paradise” will fly again at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, with live jazz and Arsimmer McCoy’s poetry performance.
A residency hosted by Miami Light Project at the Miami Theater Center culminates there in a December showing of Winter’s “DJ Apollo,” a work-in-progress. Duets choreographed by him over more than a decade reveal unencumbered bodies and spirits at Sandrell Rivers Theater in March. And a site-specific Vizcaya Museum and Gardens residency in May supports the Grass Stains project under the mentorship of all-around-creator Gabri Christa.
Returning events will bring dependable pleasures — here a bow to all those productions of “The Nutcracker.” Miami Light Project is preparing its annual ScreenDance Miami for January — with showings at various venues, including Miami Theater Center — as well as the spring lineup for Here & Now, which more than two decades has fostered the explorations of local dance talents. Doing likewise, within an ever-expanding roster of international artists, Men Who Dance, under Rafi Maldonado’s direction, comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale in late November.
At Miami’s Arsht Center in March, Spain’s greatest dance company, Ballet Nacional de España, headlines the fifteenth edition of Flamenco Festival Miami. Cutting dashing figures to irrepressible rhythms, this also features the intergenerational all-male Stars of Flamenco. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo visits in January, and this men-in-drag troupe—parodying tutu and pointe-shoe glories throughout history—remains anything but a drag on its 50th anniversary. And in February, the Arsht again welcomes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The venue has also commissioned pieces for Miami’s Peter London Global Dance Company in December and Haiti’s Ayikodans in April.
Global’s Edge of Tomorrow show will open new windows through world premieres by Jamar Roberts, Lloyd Knight (Dance Magazine’s February 2023 cover star), and Richard Villaverde—the last two choreographers prominent members of Martha Graham Dance Company and all three graduates of Miami’s New World School of the Arts.
The Moss Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay has reserved dates for notable companies on tour. Not to be missed are Tango Lovers (October), Dance Theatre of Harlem (January), Paul Taylor Dance Company (March), and BalletX (April).
At Miami Dade County Auditorium: dance shows from local companies include brigid baker wholeproject in November; Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami in February, and Bistoury Physical Theatre and Film in March with “Bird Woman,” a portrait of immigrant Latinas.
And there’s no shortage of flamenco from Spain at this venue. See Antonio Moreno, a.k.a Polito, in “Fight” in late October; Maui de Utrera’s offbeat, right-on dance-theater, “Domingos de Vermut y Potaje” (Sunday Vermouth and Stew) in November; and FlamenGo in May, in a partnership with Centro Cultural Español Miami to showcase up-and-comers safeguarding the future of their national dance tradition.
In April at the auditorium, though, FUNDarte’s presentation of “Un poyo rojo” arrives as a bundle of titillation from Argentina, delivered by a pair of sleek-muscled, skimpily-clad lads in a locker room who put manhood through the wringer of physical comedy.
(Coming up next: South Florida’s theater season preview.)
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