Overview

Delma's recap and musings about the 2014 Festival

There were so many diverse events in this year's Miami Dance Festival, it is difficult to discuss it as a capsule. But one of the things I am most happy about and proud of is the Festival's ability to reach people of many different ages along with diverse ethnic and cultural groups. From the opening pop-up performance at the Midtown Shopping Center  by the PGK Dance Project, reaching a middle income audience, to the Evening of Water Ballet, which attracted ages 8 - 80, to the Family Day, which pulls kids, parents and grandparents, to Ritmo y Pasion, a wonderful pure flamenco performance that played to a cross cultural standing-room-only audience, we covered so many bases that are relevant to our community.

 

Momentum premiered four new works in both formal and informal settings. Not Go Gently, about fear of aging, and Trois Gymnopedies, a lighter work, were my contributions. Dancers Emily Noe and Rebecca Pelham each premiered solid new works and are young talents to watch. And we kept to our tradition of including one historic work each year by offering Eleanor King's To the West, a powerful ode to the great open spaces, mountains, rivers and landscapes of the American west, ably danced by Barbie Freeman and reconstructed by Dr. Andrea Seidel. Dr. Alan Ngim was our wonderful accompanist for Emily's Untitled, set to two etudes by Scriabin, and To the West, which features an intriguing original score by Roy Harris.

 

The Panel Discussion on Dance Criticism drew a lively audience and engendered a great discussion that went on until the librarians kicked us out of the Coral Gables Library because it was closing! I really want to keep that dialogue alive and moving forward. Penelists Celeste Frazier Delgado and Octavio Roca took widely varying views with interesting commentary supplied by Marjorie O'Neill Butler and audience members Karen Peterson and Charmille Walters. Mary Lisa Burns, Dean of Dance at New World School of the Arts did a great job as moderator, keeping the conversation moving while allowing each idea to be expressed.

 

It was great collaborating with our national guest company, the PGK Dance Project from San Diego. We enjoyed giving a shared performance with them and found the two companies' styles to be different, yet quite compatible. It was fun for all of the dancers to get together and compare notes during an informal pizza party after the show. We hope to bring them back in the future.

 

The Poetry Project was a very successful experimental program in collaboration with three established local poets and percussionist J.J. Freire, co-sponsored by the Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus Department of Arts and Philosophy. This project really called on the creativity of Momentum's dancers. Each dancer selected a poem from a group curated by noted poet and MDC professor Michael Hettich, then created his/her own choreography to physically show the movement of the poem's text across the body. The poems were written directly on to the dancers' bodies and the movement led the audience members to read the sequences. This received a very positive review from El Nuevo Herald's Orlando Taquechel and we had wonderful feedback from audience members a in post-performance discussion. A few students from my Dance Apprecation course wrote papers on this event that turned out to be some of the best papers of the semester!

 

 Afternoon of the Phoenix - the grand re-opening of PAN (Performing Arts Network) in North Miami turned out to be a lovely community event that we want to keep as a feature of future festivals. A standing-room-only audience saw performances by Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, the Dance Now! Ensemble, Momentum, Kuyaky, Harmonic Motion, Tango Axis, Miami Urban Dance and individual artists Lara Tinari, Pioneer Winter, Juan Maria Sellar, Lucien Williams and Amy Deer. There was such a warm community feeling as we all shared the afternoon in tribute to Ilisa Rosal and her monumental work in rebuilding PAN after a devastating fire a couple of years ago. I like the idea of the dance community coming together in support of one of our own. We need more of this!

 

I am now working on the 2015 Festival. The national guest company will be the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company from New York. They performed at the Festival previously in 2007 with great success. The Festival will continue with its popular regular events: water ballet, Festival Family Day, Film Night and master classes. We want to keep the community event at PAN going and showcase additional local dance artists. Emily and I will each create new works and we want to work more with Alan Ngim - he is such a wonderful pianist and collaborator. The historical work planned is Anna Sokolow's Poems of Scriabin, which is a very special work for Momentum. Anna - one of the great pioneers of modern dance, considered to be one of the most uncompromising - was in Miami in 1984 and came to see the newly established Momentum in rehearsal. She was so moved by the work we were doing that she created Poems of Scriabin for us during that visit in her spare time, and gave the work to Momentum in perpetuity. Not many companies can say that! Plus, I an currently looking at new venues and alternative spaces for additional Festival events with perhaps a few surprises.

 

So stay tuned for announcements about the 2015 Miami Dancve Festival. It promises to be the best yet!

 

Delma