Mariana Oliveira is a fresh face for the Miami dance community. A native of Brazil, Oliveira founded The Union Project in New York in 2009, and is now trying to make Miami its home.
The Union project made its Miami debut March 26 and 27 at the 6th Street Dance Studio. The intimate two-day performance showcased Oliveira’s vision to unite dance with visual arts and live music to create unique performance experiences with the premiere of two pieces, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Dancing with Tom.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is based on the 1907 Picasso painting. This piece is accompanied by a 13-person orchestra with an original score composed by Michael Hurwitz, music director of The Union Project, composer, and songwriter.
Dancing with Tom is a tribute to the life and music of Antonio Carlos ‘Tom’ Jobim; the city of Rio de Janeiro; and her home country Brazil. Tom Jobim is a pioneer of the Bossa Nova, a music style created in Rio. He wrote and composed many of the Bossa Nova hits including the iconic Girl from Ipanema. Hurwitz arranged and performed the music for the piece.
Oliveira and Hurwitz are maintaining their momentum and are already working on their next piece. Inspired by forro, a popular musical style from Northeast Brazil, Oliveira is looking to add an evening theater piece to her repertoire. It will also include an original score composed by Hurwitz.
Not looking to limit her choreographies, Oliveira enjoys bringing different music and dance styles to her pieces. “I do not like to label myself. I’m a young choreographer that creates movements and ideas that means something to me at a specific moment,” says Oliveira.
Instead of following a specific regimen, Oliveira looks to her major inspirations. The use of improvisation, Brazilian movement and music, humor, and gestures all influence her work. “I like gestures that are not normally found in dance. I find inspiration from everyday expressions and non-verbal communication that I see walking down the street, in stores and throughout my everyday interactions outside of the dance studio,” explains Oliveira.
Improvisation is also important to her creative process. It’s a forum for new forms of movement and expression to be created, and provides an opportunity for her dancers’ unique styles and individuality to be expressed throughout their pieces creating a collaborative environment.
Albeit fun, directing a new dance company has also had its challenges. “We are optimistic to find a place within the larger dance community and find a home for ourselves,” Oliveira says. Experiencing some of the difficulties of many of her peers in Miami, Oliveira is working to find a permanent home for her company to rehearse and host more intimate performances.
Oliveira is a graduate from the Royal Ballet School of London, and has been an apprentice dancer at Diversions Modern Dance Company of Wales, New York Theater Ballet and also Ajkun Ballet (NYC). Locally, she has performed with the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami and Karen Peterson & Dancers. Here’s hoping she finds a good home here in our Miami hood.