As any dancer knows, music and movement are intimately related. Consider tango, salsa, rumba, or folkloric traditions around the world, where rhythms and dances carry the same name because they are so completely intertwined. The dancer’s body moves as a musical instrument, and when live music is involved, the musicians receive the dancer’s energy. A loop is created, the music blows up — and everyone elevates.
Miami-based Brazz Dance explores this relationship on stage in Mistura Fina, a duet for dancer and drummer premiering at the Adrienne Arsht Center this weekend. Mistura Fina (Portuguese for “Fine Blend”) travels through world culture to find the essence of the dancer-drummer connection, moving from rumba to funk to baião, a folk-based rhythm from northeastern Brazil.
Mistura Fina is not only the title of a project. It’s also the name of the entire program, which includes a number of repertory pieces and a sneak-peek at Cordel, a work in progress. A native of Bahia in Brazil, choreographer Augusto Soledade has indeed, over the course of his career, developed a fine blend of dance forms. His work can be described as contemporary with a strong Afro-Brazilian influence, but he has integrated many other forms into the mix, including ballet, hip-hop, and jazz. Any single choreography represents the range of his movement research, with more recent influences rising closer to the surface.
The idea of blending also shows up in Soledade’s references. Altars (2006) and Oxossi — The Divine Hunter (2004), both part of the Mistura Fina program, celebrate Brazilian sacred traditions. Oxossi tells a story from Brazilian Candomblé, an African-based religion. In Altars, Soledade considers Candomblé to the soundtrack of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas. This is not as wild a juxtaposition as it may seem – Bach’s Cantatas were originally composed for Lutheran church services. With the same joyous disregard for boundaries between things, Cordel looks at a Brazilian folk literature tradition and finds parallels to the rhythm and meter of American rap and hip-hop, with a little Argentine tango on the side. By bringing so many different cultures and histories together on stage, the Brazz Dance repertory respects the past as part of the present, and equalizes multiple traditions.
Soledade co-founded Brazz Dance Theater in New York in 1998 with former dance partner Rachelle Zambito. He eventually ventured out on his own, relocating the company to Miami in 2004 with a few of his dancers. One of them, Ilana Reynolds, is still with him, and he has since built up a strong group of performers. Miami has enthusiastically embraced Brazz Dance Theater and Mistura Fina marks the company’s Arsht Center debut. The performance will be held in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater, providing an up-close experience of what is sure to be an accomplished, vivid program.
Brazz Dance presents Mistura Fina on March 10 and 11 at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. To reserve tickets, visit www.arshtcenter.org or call the box office at 305-949-6722. For more information about Brazz Dance, visit www.brazzdance.org.