‘Open Stage’ Opens Doors for New Choreographers
Dance Now! Miami will present “Open Stage: Works & Process,” showcasing four of Miami’s emerging choreographers this coming Sunday at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, where the Dance Now! Ensemble is in residence. Featured choreographers include Prince Emmanuel Abiodun Aderle, Kiki Lucas, Dawn Robinson-Patrick and Katrina Weaver. Co-Founder and Artistic Director Hannah Baumgarten describes the event as the dance equivalent of an “open-mic,” which will include works-in-progress and a Q&A session that aims to give the choreographers feedback on their new work.
We asked her about the vision for the evening.
Hannah Baumgarten: Emerging choreographers don’t always know how an audience will react to their work. Dance Now! developed “Open Stage” as an opportunity for them to present their work in a first-rate theatrical setting as well as to facilitate a dialogue with them and an audience. It is essential for a choreographer, especially one early in his/her career, to have this kind of experience. It is the best way to help them to grow.
Will “Open Stage” be presenting any choreographers whose work has never before been seen in Miami?
Yes. I am especially eager to see what Dawn Robinson-Patrick will be bringing to the stage. Although she has never performed in Miami, Dawn has an extensive performance history in the States and throughout the Caribbean. Her background is in both contemporary dance and hip-hop. She works with what she calls “Soul Journeys,” exploring movement mostly as it comes out of the experiences of generations of the women of her family who grew up in the rural South. Dawn speaks eloquently of an audience finding strength as they witness her vulnerability as a dancer.
We will be presenting two additional choreographers: Kiki Lucas and Katrina Weaver. Miami audiences may recognize Katrina from her performances with Karen Peterson Dancers and that company’s pioneering work with mixed-ability dancers. Kiki Lucas is very new to Miami, arriving in August to accept a post as choreographer for one of the young, vibrant Miami’s dance companies, New Mosaic Dance Company. Her work had a recent Miami debut backstage at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Kiki’s background is with ballet and contemporary dance with strong tango influences as well.
Is there a particular signature that these choreographers have in common?
The answer is a resounding no. In a way that is what makes all this so interesting, let alone important. Choreographers sign up for “Open Stage” on a first-come, first-served basis. This is not an adjudicated contest. Rather it is open to support and develop the dance community in Miami.
The audience would need to be highly motivated to make this as rich an opportunity as you suggest.
Absolutely. Discussions between our audience and the choreographers get intense. Each performance may last 10 minutes or so, but the discussion that follows that single piece may continue for an hour. Dance Now! is pleased to have Artburst’s Josie Gulliksen as our monitor. We have prompts prepared for the audience to get things rolling as well. For instance, we might ask the audience to consider whether the music heightened its experience or distracted from it. Or we might ask the audience to consider the effectiveness of the costumes. Once we had an extensive conversation about why a performer was wearing socks. “Open Stage” is a way for an audience to actively enter into the creative process.
Dance Now! seems to have its hand on the pulse of the Miami dance community.
We regard ourselves as amazingly lucky to be a resident company at the Little Haiti Cultural complex. We wanted to find a way to keep up the good karma, to give back to not only to the center but to the wider community. We are proud to be able to say that in the last three years … we have showcased the work of 60 Miami choreographers.
“Miami Open Stage: Works & Process,” Sunday, Nov. 15 at 5:00 p.m. at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex Theater, 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami; tickets $15 at door or www.dancenowmiami.org. For more information call 305-975-8489.