Dance in South Florida is fast becoming more visible, more popular, and stronger. Dance speaks to our minds, our emotions and thrills our senses. Numerous Miami dance pioneers are pushing the envelope in this very diverse and eclectic field combined with new voices that are permeating Miami’s rich and willing society. Almost every weekend, there is something to be seen in dance, while numerous workshops and masterclasses are provided throughout the week.
One of the new voices that is now residing at The Mandlestam School in South Miami is iMEE (infinite Movement Ever Evolving) contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by the duo of Spencer Gavin Hering and Andrea Dawn Shelley. On Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. iMEE is hosting its first Miami dance festival, “soMi Dance Fest. The festival will showcase the technical and artistic prowess of three select South Florida dance companies: iMEE; Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami and Pioneer Winter Collective. Audiences will be given an opportunity to see an array of local dance in one evening in the same space.
Co-founder, Andrea Dawn Shelley is not new to Miami. She was born and raised here, studied ballet with Magda Auñon and graduated from FIU. Her first dancing jobs were also in Florida with Orlando Ballet, Maximum Dance, and Miami Contemporary Dance. After years spent in Miami, Shelley transitioned to Houston but kept returning to dance in her home, Miami. She knows well the tempo and pace of Miami, as well as how to navigate the dance scene.
Far across the world, Hering, was born in Germany and was the son of two dancers. By the age of four, his family had moved to California where he was raised.
He said, “I didn’t start dancing officially until I was 14 or 15, but I was around it my whole life. I was like a studio kid!”
After numerous scholarships for training, Hering danced professionally in California, then retired because of an injury after a short, four years. Retirement is a funny thing in the dance business. Sometimes retired dancers resurface. After a phone call from Maximum Dance’s director, David Palmer, Hering did just that and was once again performing, this time in Miami.
Shelley and Hering met while working with Maximum Dance in Miami as dancers. Thus began a personal and artistic journey that led them from choreographing and teaching in the studio to realizing the administrative needs in running a company, and iMEE was soon founded.
While touring with their project based company throughout the world, the perfect opportunity presented itself. The couple was enticed to return full time to Miami to envision, create and head the Mandelstam Dance program. There, they have built a Young Artists program, an open class program and are creating dancers for iMEE. A bonus is having the Mandelstam Theater for performing and a house for their company. The situation is what every dance director hopes to establish.
After a year and a half, they feel it is time to progress to the next step with “soMi Dance Fest.”
“With this festival, we are hoping to expand the mind-set of the audience. Every offering is going to be so vastly different.” Shelley said.
The idea of the festival is to give each participating company about 20 minutes of performing time, so it is a very substantial opportunity for local performers who normally are given seven to ten minutes of time.
“We are trying something new in that we only have three companies performing. The show is about an hour.” Shelley said.
Hering jumps in, “We’re taking the recipe from Europe in festivals that we’ve been a part of.”
Shelley continues, “So you get to really see the company and see their work, get to know their voice and their dancers.”
Shelley and Hering are both very passionate about teaching. “We teach a lot of young artists and masterclasses. It has also been a part of iMEE. We have offered many workshops.”
To that end, in conjunction with the single festival performance, there is a masterclass series that gives a taste of the different genres of dance that are being performed. Starting on Saturday Jan. 13 at 1 p.m., classes will be offered by each company including ballet, contemporary and a choreographic improv class taught by guest choreographer, Maurice Causey.
The diverse performance will include C'est la vie (Kevin Jenkins ) by Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, REPRISE, excerpts from work-in-progress by Pioneer Winter Collective, and a world premiere creation by iMEE guest choreographer, Causey.
“soMi Dance Fest” is an exciting new event in the dance culture of Miami. It will introduce audiences to local movement and theater that has, perhaps, not been discovered. The festival could propel interest to see and explore more art, more culture, and other performances. Take advantage of the opportunity!
soMi Dance Fest 2018, Mandelstam Theater, 8530 SW 57 Ave., South Miami, Saturday, January 13 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $25-$35
The soMi master class series takes place on Saturday, January 13 and Sunday, January 14, 2018 at Mandelstam DANCE, 8530 SW 57 Ave, South Miami, series package is available for purchase online at: imeeonthemove.com/somi-master-class-series.