A Miami-based dance company has, like many performance arts groups, stayed committed to their art in one of the most difficult times in modern history.
(WATCH THE COMPLETE SHOW ONLINE: Tickets available from performance)
It has been the priority of Dance Now! Miami's co-artistic directors Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, like so many other leaders in the business of arts, to keep its dancers, collaborating artists, technicians, and crew employed.
On Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, they will premier a full-length work, "This Moment Here," a choreographic take on the COVID-19 moment. Tickets can be purchased only online at dancenowmiami.
The live performance will be streamed online from the iconic North Beach Bandshell.
DNM kept things going without pause when the pandemic hit. With numerous live performance and rehearsal cancellations, they pivoted to produce multiple on-line videos with their company dancers who were at home throughout the summer. They celebrated the company's 20th Anniversary virtually last spring and they have created new works, made for online.
Each period has been a journey fueling the creation of “This Moment, Here.” Like the rest of the world, Baumgarten and Salterini have experienced the emotional and physical phases of the pandemic since the quarantine began in March and through numerous highs and lows since. This has given them, they say, content and food for thought in the creation of this latest work.
The creation of “This Moment, Here” is the first time the dancers and choreographers have been present in a studio to rehearse. However, as has been experienced during this pandemic, live rehearsal is no easy task.
There are a multitude of safety protocols to follow that have been put in place by Miami-Dade County and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and DNM has been conscientiously and diligently following safety guidelines.
Beyond that, Baumgarten and Salterini said they were committed to honor each dancer’s comfort level during rehearsals and performance. Dance is a visceral art that requires interaction and touching, so maintaining distance was a consideration that shaped the choreographic process.
“We did several surveys to see what the level of comfort was for the dancers. Some dancers could only work alone and there were couples who lived together that could do duets,” Salterini said. "All of the dancers are extremely happy to not be dancing on Zoom anymore."
Initially creating the work itself required coordination and scheduling.
Salterini continues. “Once we understood what we could do and who could do what, the dancers were extremely flexible and willing to work with us to make it happen. The lines of communication had to really stay open. We had a storyline and knew how to move ahead. We are also just eager to dance and create again.”
Baumgarten says, “We wanted to create a piece that was shaped by and reflective of the literal, physical current situation that we’re in. It is really about 'this moment here' where we are and what has happened since the first days when we heard those alarms blaring on our phones to 'stay at home, stay at home' and moving through all of the things we have experienced in the past months.”
During the COVID period, there is nothing predictable and change is eminent. Baumgarten and Salterini have become very experienced in adapting to change. Even while following every protocol during rehearsals, one of the dancers tested positively for coronavirus and all company work was canceled for over two weeks. The originally scheduled performance premier on Dec. 13 needed to be rescheduled to the present date. With quarantining, healing, more rehearsals and even cooler weather, everyone is now, ready to go.
In the age of COVID-19, a "go-to" doctor for dancers in South Florida was imperative. Baumgarten says Kathleen Davenport, M.D., a physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist, was a major source of information and offered guidance for next steps. We are very grateful to her,” Baumgarten said.
A studio showing offered a first glimpse of the entire ballet. The eight movements will encompass various levels of the bandshell allowing safety and socially distancing for the nine dancers. The bandshell also provides four cameras that allow multiple perspectives of the ballet.
“This Moment, Here” takes viewers from the disrupted daily routine in the prologue, into the isolation and loneliness and, perhaps panic, that prevails in section two solos by Renee Roberts and Anthony Valezquez. In section three, Julia Faris, David Harris, Isabelle Lu Li Haas, and Joshua Emmanuel Rosado gather around the kitchen table in unity as the unknown haunts and the safety of home is questioned. Section four, with Allyn Ginns Ayers, Matthew Heufnerr, and Benicka J. Grant with Roberts reveals dissonance and our "on screen" world by couples who never actually touch each other.
Politics take center stage as elections and debates shape quarantine worlds as shown by Harris, Haas, Faris and Rosado in confrontations from the safety of separate spaces. A sinuous trio of three men in section six beautifully and sadly describes the affect of our immune system when battling the virus.
Ultimately, this virus is about breathing and the lack thereof in a beautiful poem performed by Ginns Ayers that segues to the haunting and horrific atrocity of murder at the hands of police in Minnesota of George Floyd. The final passage leaves the audience with the entire company aspiring to the beauty and hope of tomorrow.
Featuring original music by Federico Bonacossa, costumes by Haydee and Maria Morales and set and lighting design by Bruce F. Brown, all long-time DNM collaborators, “This Moment, Here” is a journey of where we’ve been, what our stories are and, with unity and love, where we can go.
WHAT: Dance NOW! Miami Live-Stream Program I "This Moment, Here"
WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: On DNM's YouTube channel live from the North Beach Bandshell
ADMISSION: $10 "virtual ticket" required for pass to watch live-stream performance. Tickets can be purchased only online at dancenowmiami.