There’s a fierce tiger on the loose. Right here in Miami. At the Botanical Gardens on the Beach. The tiger is hungry and has a glint in his eye as he watches a very kind man who is terribly old and can’t run fast. Will tragedy be averted?
The Momentum Dance Company has the answer. And on Sunday, May 13, it will share the whole story, one based on an ancient Indian fable entitled the “Tiger and the Brahmin.” The Mother’s Day performance will begin at 4:00 p.m. and is open to the public free of charge.
In the 30 years since Momentum and its director and choreographer Delma Iles have been working in South Florida, the company has garnered a significant reputation for its innovative modern dance concerts. Iles is proud of this work, but she is equally proud of Momentum’s outreach educational efforts. About half the company’s time and resources is spent working with kids — elementary level all the way to senior high — through various artist-in-residencies in local schools and performances in local libraries and community centers. “Nobody can love what they don’t have access to,” says Iles.
“We are committed to introducing as many of the young as we can to our art form. We are committed to building future audiences for dance.” Then with a grin Iles adds, “This means reaching out to boys as well as girls. We generally avoid any and all frou-frou and la di da in our performances.” The “Tiger and the Brahim” is the most recent illustration of Momentum’s good efforts.
The Indian fable, thousands of years older than our Aesop’s fables, will be told by Momentum’s eight member company through both pantomime and modern dance.
All the animals and trees that the kind man turns to for guidance, all the folks he meets along the way, indeed, the kind man himself will be wearing masks created by Marilyn Stow, artistic director of FIU’s Theater Department. At a recent preview, a child was heard to say, “Man, that tiger was really scary.”
But Momentum has taken its masked pantomime and modern dance and added something more. At the beginning and the end of the performance, the audience will be able to glimpse a few minutes of Indian classical dance, a tradition that Momentum director Delma Iles describes as “perhaps the richest in the world.” Thanks to Geeta Dias, a local instructor of Indian dance, members of the dance company have mastered more than a few of the “mudras,” the extensive language of hand gestures that is so intimately tied to Indian dance tradition.
How did all this interest in things Indian come about? Thanks to a Miami Dade cultural grant, Momentum director Iles was able to study Indian dance for a time in Mumbai. Back in Miami, she decided to show a film featuring some of that classic dance, albeit with a Bollywood twist, as part of the South Florida Dance Festival. “People in our area seemed to be fascinated. So many folks came that night that the Cinematique couldn’t hold them all.”
Good thing there is ample room on the beach for Sunday’s high drama.
“The Tiger and the Brahmin” at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach at 4:00 p.m. For Information and Reservations call: 305-673-7256 or 305-858-7002. Admission is free; www.momentumdance.com.