Six Weeks of Dance: The Miami Dance Festival
On April 2, Ballet Flamenco La Rosa opened this year’s Miami Dance Festival with an original theatrical flamenco performance at the Colony Theater featuring a large ensemble of local and visiting dancers. On May 15, the festival comes to an end at the Byron Carlyle with the Momentum Dance Company Spring Season performances, the month having given Miami audiences plenty of opportunity to sample a wide spectrum of contemporary dance. The festival started off eight years ago as much smaller-scale weekend program. A number of local dance companies, including Momentum Dance Company, Dance Now! Ensemble and Ballet Flamenco La Rosa decided to join forces and create a collective event for National Dance Week. Since that first year, the festival has steadily grown. Now, it is a full six-week program including an expanded roster of local companies, along with visiting artists, public events, and master classes. According to Delma Iles, a co-founder of the Miami Dance Festival and the director of Momentum Dance Company, the festival is designed to make dance accessible to many different communities. To that end, performances and events will be presented in multiple venues around the city, from the Colony Theater to the Bass Museum to the Coral Gables Public Library, and more. While the overall program has expanded significantly, its core remains the same – local dance companies will be presenting evening-length concerts. As a professor in the Miami-Dade College dance department, Iles noticed that many of her students had never seen a live dance performance before. When they went together to the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on a class assignment, the students were genuinely impressed not only by the architecture of the theater itself, but also by the experience of seeing a dance concert for the first time. A Young City That Needs Cultural Building Blocks For the general public, dance is not necessarily a familiar art form. Miami is still a young city, culturally speaking, so local dance companies have to do more than just put on a good show. They have to welcome and build new audiences. The Miami Dance Festival is designed to do exactly that. https://artburstmiami.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/022711_Six-Characters_0241.jpgThe range of work presented for this year’s festival promises entertainment for both newcomers and more experienced audiences. The Dance Now! Ensemble and Momentum Dance Company will each perform evening-length contemporary dance concerts in May. Both are founding members of the festival, and their performances represent a view into Miami’s contemporary dance scene. CORE Performance Ensemble, a company visiting from Atlanta, has also been invited to perform a multi-media dance and theater work in May. Other satellite events step outside the bounds of traditional theater performance. Caligula, a film version of a ballet performance by Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris, will be screened at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, and the Dance Now! Ensemble will go into the Bass Museum with EKPHRASIS 2, a site-specific dance event that responds to artwork in the museum. The festival will also host lectures on subjects ranging from the role of dance criticism to Paris-style ballet, and the public will have an opportunity to speak with local choreographers about their work. Audiences will not only be entertained, they will also be supporting local artists. As Iles commented, “right now is the scariest moment for funding that I have ever seen,” and events like the Miami Dance Festival offer each one of us an opportunity to help sustain and continue building a vital creative community, in spite of governmental budget cuts. We don’t have to be big dollar donors, we just have to buy a ticket.