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'From the Dirt' Explores America's Culture

Provocative New Dance Work at MTC's 'Sandbox'


Charlotte Libov

Dancer Yu-mien Wu. Photo by Karima Arabia.

Photographer:

Dancer Yu-mien Wu. Photo by Karima Arabia.

Does a stage covered in dirt inspire you? When it sprang to Brigette Cormier’s mind, this image inspired her to create a contemporary dance piece, and cover the MTC stage with – you guessed it – dirt.

Her work, “From the Dirt,” is part of the MTC Sandbox Series (aptly named, at least in this case), which premiered last weekend, and continues there through this weekend.

The first weekend’s audiences greeted the work enthusiastically, says Yolima Avila, MTC’s general manager.

Bridgette Cormier teaches Natalie Vazquez. Photo by Karime Arabia.

Photographer:

Bridgette Cormier teaches Natalie Vazquez. Photo by Karime Arabia.

“As lead dancer, she and her ensemble takes the audience with them on a journey of human experience using dance to explore patterns, historic battles, and social conditioning,” says Avila. “Our audiences were captivated by Cormier’s elegant style and compelling narrative,” she added.

“’From the Dirt’ is a wonderful example of what we like to achieve in our SandBox Series. With MTC’s support, Cormier crafted a thought-provoking and inspired piece blending contemporary dance, with an original score and fascinating story thread.” adds Giselle Kovac, MTC’s executive director.

According to Cormier, “From the Dirt” is a 30-minute piece, designed to reflect the human experience in relation to traumatic social conditioning patterns in history.

A dance artist and educator, Cormier is also artistic director of B.C. Dance, the dance company she created, when she decided to transition from being not only a dancer (although she dances the lead in this production) to becoming a choreographer as well very early in her career.

“When I was 11, I found that I wanted to be a choreographer,” says the Miami-based Cormier, who was then dancing with a small, pre-professional company in Melbourne, Fla.

She has been creating contemporary dances for her own company, since she graduated with a degree in dance from the New World School for the Arts in 2011, and she was recently commissioned to create pieces for Miami Light Project’s Here & Now 2017, Shift Dance Collective’s 2016 and 2017 seasons in New York, NY, and Psyche Electro-Acoustic Opera Company’s ongoing Miami-based projects.

For “From the Dirt,” she drew on historical references, such as old footage “Duck and Cover,” a film distributed to schools in the 1950’s to show children what to do in the event of a nuclear attack, to more recent events in contemporary America.

Brigette Cormier, Kamaria Dailey, Yu-mien Wu. Photo by Karime Arabia.

Photographer:

Brigette Cormier, Kamaria Dailey, Yu-mien Wu. Photo by Karime Arabia.

“In choreographing the piece, I explored the concepts of reincarnation, life after death, toxic masculinity, psychological trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), as well as healing through self expression,” says Cormier. “I feel those are potent components of our Americana Culture, and they’ve informed how our humanity has evolved.”

But, although the work has aspects of darkness, that is not the overriding theme, says Cormier, who, in addition to choreographing ad directing the work, also created the design, costumes, and arranged the music.

“What I love about dance art is that I can say so much in one moment, without ever interrupting myself. I can combine and layer symbolic messages, to create a piece that has psychological, intellectual, and visually stunning components within the one composition,” Cormier says.

To encourage audiences to react to the work, Cormier holds a “Q&A” session following every performance.

Cormier is the lead dancer in the work. The others are:

  • Yu-mien Wu – a Taiwan-born dancer who has performed works by Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Peter London, and Robert Battle.
  • Kamaria Dailey – Currently freelancing as a multi-disciplined artist, but has performed with Brazz Dance Theatre and Katherine Kramer, as well as having served as dance director of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, where she had trained in Miami.
  • Natalie Vazquez who, while performing through college, trained and performed with as Ballet Hispanico, Alvin Ailey, and Bill T. Jones Arnie Zane Dance Company, and now dances with the Peter London Global Dance Complex.
“From the Dirt” will be April 20, 21, 27 and 28 at Miami Theater Center in the Sandbox, 9806 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami. Admission is $25. To purchase tickets, call (305) 751-9550 or www.mtcmiami.org.

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