Red Weather over South Miami-Dade
The lovely weather down here these days, the vibrant cultural scene, the ethnically diverse food options, all those are reasons that have Alison Chase jumping for joy. It is pretty cold, by the way, in Maine, where she lives. But more important than all that: the modern dance giant — she co-founded, oh, some little groups you may have heard of, like Pilobolus and Momix — is thrilled to be in South Florida this week to hold the world premiere of her work Red Weather, at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC) on Saturday. Red Weather is part of a four-piece show that Chase’s touring program, Alison Chase Performance (from her dance theater production company, Apogee Arts), will be performing in our area, where she and her dancers have also been sharing with the community by way of workshops. “I am doing a whole week of outreach here, and one workshop was very exciting because it involved kids from the area and a senior citizens group, and so we did a transgenerational workshop,” says Chase from the SMDCAC facilities. “I am looking forward to working with local choreographers and dancers… I would like to come down and just do research, with the music and the restaurants. This is a really rich, wonderful, community here.” The opportunity to teach in South Florida is a welcomed one for the choreographer, professor and 67-year-old mother of three who brought a highly kinetic style to dance, adding film, aerial performances (expect that in her South Miami-Dade show), and multidimensional storytelling to create a signature style. “We don’t have such a dynamically diverse community,” continues Chase about how South Florida differs from her region. “We enjoy teaching people the process of invention, and encourage them to blend whatever kind of dance they do, whether it’s merengue or salsa, to approach it playfully, and to expand that vocabulary out.” And expanding the vocabulary of dance is what St. Louis-born-and-raised Alison Chase has been doing most notably since October 1971 when, along with several colleagues at Darmouth College, what would become one of the world’s best known and most important contemporary dance companies, Pilobolus Dance Theater, took its first steps. Chase’s life with Pilobolus abruptly and stunningly came to an end, however, in December 2005. Reports surfaced that Chase had been fired due to differences with the company’s board of directors, who wanted her to sign over ownership of her innovative works. She refused. Pilobolus, meanwhile, disputed her version of ownership rights in the media. When asked about this episode today, Chase responds that she can’t comment on it. “Well, I have moved beyond. I have signed a gag order,” she says. “I am delighted to be doing what I’m doing.” After the Pilobolus chapter, the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1980), among many other awards, free-lanced, until she officially founded Apogee Arts in 2010. “I realized that I passionately enjoy making dances, and if I had an ensemble that I could sort of be free to direct into new choreographic adventures, and teach them, I felt there would be great freedom in a small organization that’s not trapped by such a heavy, heaving touring schedule,” she explains. “And I’ve enjoyed doing it with a pacing and a phrasing that I can control and that it’s not overwhelmingly frenetic. I like to work slow.” Slow, however, is definitely not an adjective to describe her work. Alison Chase Performance at SMDCAC, 10950 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay, Saturday, April 13, at 8:00 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $35 (a select number of $5 Cultureshockmiami.com tickets are available for ages 13-22); www.smdcac.org; 786-573-5300; www.cultureshockmiami.com. This article also appears with Miami New Times.