Originally published in SunPost on April 14, 2011
The Miami Dance Festival is in motion and our city is bursting at the seams with dance. Last weekend Florida Dance Theatre from Lakeland, Florida, performed Innovations at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach as part of the over a month-long fest. The evening of repertory pieces and new works displayed variety and technical range. The dancers were highly trained and organized, but the music and choreography often seemed more stifling than liberating. Dancer Steven Jeudy really stood out, with an extraordinary stage presence and hip and spine articulation. He gave much needed emotion and power, but his fire was often flattened by the overly cerebral music and outdated choreography.
The first piece, “Lassos and Plateaus,” was not a strong opening number, though the playful spin on a “Spaghetti Western” was lighthearted and certainly had a festival quality. Mostly, the dancers made the work look hard and the ill-fitting costumes and stream of difficult, yet unsteady turns left the audience uneasy. A beautiful and successful moment was in the trio section of “The Here and Now,” choreographed by company dancer Stefan Dolbashian. Sections of crescendo and drama were well captured and executed.
The “Fallen Angel Suite” by Artistic Director Carol Krajacic Erkes had moments of complexity, but felt more befuddling than pleasurable. The piece which examines “the struggle with outside influences” seemed to crumble under the pressure. The black-and-white thematic and staging seemed literal, a little Eighties, and devoid of the psychomachia and drama inherent in that study. What did resonate and stand out in the piece was the beautiful dancing of soloist Rebecca Yeager. Her ballet seemed modern, with a slight edge and all her own. Her pointe work had breadth and reach and her lines were simply exquisite. While the program seemed scattered, I was pleased to get to know this company that is doing important work in Lakeland and training very strong dancers.
The Miami Dance Festival is the brainchild of Delma Iles, Artistic Director of Momentum Dance Company, now celebrating its 20th season. The festival started April 2 and continues to May 15, when Momentum Dance Company will close the festival. I am particularly excited to see Momentum’s reprise of 20th-century Modern Dance icon Doris Humphrey’s “Water Dance.”
This weekend, you can catch the Dance Now! Ensemble on April 17 at 3:00 p.m., as part of the Dade Heritage Days event. It takes place at the Coco Plum Women’s Club, 1375 Sunset Drive in Coral Gables. At the historic women’s club, the company will feature “Drawing Circles,” Dance Now!’s Co-Director Diego Salterini’s homage to the classic MiMo architecture of Miami. Tickets cost $15 to $20 (call 305-975-8489 or 305-858-7002).
What is wonderful about the Miami Dance Festival is its interaction with the city, which and exposes audiences to a variety of venues and artistic voices. There is a healthy offering of master classes, film and a panel discussion that are integral to the festival. To find out more and to check out the rest of the schedule, visit www.momentumdance.com.