Artburst Exclusive January 9, 2011 Slowly, but surely, Miami’s contemporary choreographers develop their work, right before our eyes. This weekend’s Miami Dances program, part of this year’s excellent Florida Dance Festival Winterfest, featured pieces in various stages of progress. The evening opened on a bare stage with the most nascent piece, a solo for Ilana Reynolds choreographed by Augusto Soledade of Brazz Dance. “Cordel” is a bright, abstract piece that at times seems like a slowed-down break dance routine or — a better description for this Brazilian-born choreographer who fuses Afro-Brazilian forms with contemporary dance — a slow motion-capoeira fight.
Octavio Campos presented fragments of two new solo dance theater pieces, “Please Don’t Hate Me!!!” and “Mermaids, Porn Stars, & Pigs.” I don’t know where one piece left off and the other began; this performance seemed seamless to me. I assume that when Campos scrawled the letters H-A-T-E on separate, shiny aluminum sheets and read injunctions against specific sexual acts from the Bible, that was the “Don’t Hate Me.” When he put on a big mask and draped a Cuban flag from his undies, I’m guessing that was “MPSP.” Typical of Campos, each piece is calculated to provoke: I can’t think of a better name for his final gesture of breaking in the middle of the hallowed Cuban anthem “Guantanamera” to unleash a golden shower than “Piss Marti.” Typical of my reaction to Campos’ work, my favorite moments are the intimate dialogues where he shares his everyday experience as a prelude to his outrageous performance. Here, he relayed a pick up line from a Miccosukee he met at Versailles, who told him that the two men had been pigs together on a farm on the outskirts of Berlin during the Weimar Republic which led to the performance of a full Weimar cabaret number. Of course!
The second half of the program was similarly structured, with a hard-working Ilana Reynolds returning for a solo from Letty Bassart’s “100.” I missed an earlier version of this piece and was happy to catch up. It was especially interesting to see the same dancer perform Soledade’s and Bassart’s work, highlighting the differences in their movement vocabulary. In “Cordel,” Reynolds often supported herself on her palms, lifting off the ground with freed kneeds or shooting up into the air. In “100,” Bassart set the restriction of never touching letting the palms touch the ground, with the effect that Reynolds is frequently gliding across the floor, her body slowly following the back of her hand. The first movement of the piece is set to an instrumental version of “Amazing Grace,” played simultaneously with two women talking about the relationship one of them had with her now deceased husband, “Vincent.” This decontextualized conversation is manipulated to repeat key phrases, emphasizing the difficulty of showing affection to loved ones and the feeling of loss left by those missed opportunities. Those ideas reverberate in the second movement, danced in silence, and the third, with a quick electronic soundtrack. I am still wondering what “100″ means and looking forward to more clues as the work continues to develop.
I have seen several iterations of the final piece of the program, from solo to ensemble versions of Heather Maloney’s “Vertical Sprawl.” This was the first time Maloney has presented her mediation on overconsumption on a proscenium stage. I prefer the intimacy provided by the alternative spaces where she’s staged the work before, but others in the audience enjoyed the more formal presentation. As always, I am impressed by the intensity of interaction and the strength demonstrated in partnering in Maloney’s work, especially — though not exclusively — in the interaction between paraplegic dancer John Beauregard (that descriptor seems unnecessary here, so integrated and vital is he to the performance). One of my favorite moments had dancer Carlota Pradera diving head first across Beauregard’s lap like a missile.