Jennifer Kronenburg and Carlos Guerra, the dynamic duo behind Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, are bookending a series of three tried-and-true pas de deux "gems" of the dance world this weekend.
Now in its third year, Dimensions is positioning itself as a noted presence in the Miami and national dance community. Its fresh and relevant approach to dance, the variety of skilled dance artists and a repertory that reflects the colorful tempo of Miami makes them a must-see dance company.
Kronenburg says, "We can't really wrap our heads around what's happening. We still feel like this brand new baby that's trying to climb up the mountain. Our plate is really full."
As a young company, each step is new and each step has much visibility. That doesn't come without a little pressure as the company grows, wanting each performance to be as impactful and as exciting as the prior. This weekend's program on Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, will venture into the unknown.
"We like the idea of continuing to build our rep with different ballets," Kronenburg continues. "Part of our mission is to commission new works by local talent. In a new work, you never really know what you're going to get, so there is an element of risk involved. We know the choreographer's work and we trust them. So for this program, we felt that company premieres of known pieces mixed with world premieres gave us a little bit of a safety net."
The two larger premieres on the program are by Yanis Pikieris and Ariel Rose.
Rose, a dancer with Miami City Ballet, is one of the freshest new talents from the local dance scene. He has been growing his expertise in creating works for other dance organizations and this is his second new creation for DDTM.
"The first time I worked with DDTM, I didn't really know anyone except Jennifer and Carlos from MCB. It's usually the case when you go to choreograph for a company. You get to know the dancers through the process. The DDTM company is so tightly knit and is a real team. They're willing to try anything. It's a real joy to work with them."
Starting to choreograph at a young age, Rose was given the opportunity at age 11 to create a piece for a workshop and get direct feedback and mentorship from his then, ballet teacher.
"We were given ideas on music, direction, theme steps, musicality, how an audience might think or feel, what they would walk away with." Rose says, "I created my first three works through that workshop."
Rose says, "My main gift was musicality. I really think it's because my Mom had me watch the movie, Fantasia. If you think about it, that movie is choreographed to the music. Things happen on the crescendos, canons, melodies and harmonies. I think that sparked this visualization skill where I could visualize choreography when listening to music. It's really my first memory of creating movement,"
Now, years later, musicality remains one of his strong points that is used when he choreographs.
Rose has created a ballet for DDTM called "Eqqus" which he's been working on, in his mind, for about three years. The piece is performed to five pieces of music by Philip Glass, one of which is called, "Runaway Horses."
"I kept listening to the music," Rose said. "It gave me this sense of never ending, sort of running, galloping. I felt that horses, being so beautiful to watch, their frolicking, play, but they also have an incredibly important role in history. They were the main source of transportation before trains and cars. They've served major purposes. I thought it would be a beautiful idea to fuse that human/horse nature that in one way is an homage to horses and in another way brings a different kind of physicality out of the dancers."
"I wanted to do a piece that was a good medium between abstract and literal. So my challenge was developing a vocabulary and not being afraid to repeat it throughout the piece as a language."
This is the biggest piece he's ever done and it's also the first work in which he'll have a backdrop. Rose has been collaborating with Berlin based artist, Archan Nair, to create an original new commissioned image that will be projected during the piece.
The second world premier is choreographed by Miami local and dance director, Yanis Pikieris, who has choreographed quite extensively and works regularly with DDTM to coach and stage ballets. Pikieris has taken the magnanimous job of choreographing to Maurice Ravel's, Bolero, a piece of music that is well known and one, that Pikieris has heard often.
Pikieris is very familiar with the dancers and knows their individuality quite well. It is an aspect that he brings out through his choreography in "Bolero."
Pikieris says, "I was standing on the stage before the performance and they were playing it (Bolero) and I started imagining. I hadn't heard the music in a long time and I just thought, well why not."
"I'm pretty spontaneous about choreographing," Pikieris continued. "I know the music well and that it would build slowly, that is inevitable. Everyone knows the music and they relate to the ballet in their own individual way, but I don't want to lead them anywhere."
Watching an early run of "Bolero" in a studio setting revealed a very dynamic piece with repetitive movements that grow in complexity, and perhaps contains an element of mystery as each dancer disappears and reappears to the mesmerizing score.
One of the smaller, and no less impactful, works on the program will be "Imperfections" choreographed by Jimmy Orrante. Orrante stepped into a choreographer's role during his last ten years as a dancer with Ballet Met Columbus.
With numerous successes and grants to his credit, Orrante laughs as he speaks of being a choreographer.
"I wasn't really driven to be a choreographer. It was sort of a hidden art form to me, something I didn't realize I could really do as a career. What I really enjoy is the process. You start at point A and who knows where Z is going to lead you, or where the in between is going to lead you."
"Imperfections" was originally created for a benefit for the hemophiliac foundation. Orrante's son is a hemophiliac, so it is a subject close to his heart. He wanted to create movement that emulated the music, but most of all, he wanted to investigate all of the idiosyncrasies of being a couple.
"I think what makes couples and relationships work is the multiple imperfections that we have and how we balance that off of each other. I wanted to do something simple, but the way it's done is difficult; the intent behind the movement and how they fulfill the musicality and how, as a couple, they have to work together as one, but in a very simple way."
To round out the program will be Gerald Arpino's lush and romantic pas de deux from his full length ballet, "Italian Suite" to the music of Ermano Wolf-Ferrari and the enthralling pas de deux from Diana and Acteon.
This program will be the last opportunity to see DDTM perform in Miami this season before they start their residency in Vero Beach and, a highlight of the summer, performing at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
8 p.m. Saturday, July 13 and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St, Cutler Bay, FL 33189.
VIP Tickets on Saturday, July 13
Free pre-performance talk in the Lab Theater on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. moderated by SMDCAC Managing Director Eric Fliss and featuring Ariel Rose (choreographer); Jennifer Kronenberg (director); Carlos Guerra (director); and Cameron Basden (Arpino répétiteur). Next, celebrate with Founding Artistic Directors Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, and the Dimensions Dancers at a post-show reception in the Black Box Theater following the Saturday evening performance.
For information: (786) 573-5300