Dance NOW! Miami Opener Celebrates Beauty, Joy Of Seasons

Dance NOW! Miami Ensemble in Diego Salterini's


Dance NOW! Miami Ensemble in Diego Salterini's "Chronicles." (Photo by Jenny Abreu)

Cameron Basden, Dance Writer

In South Florida, we selfishly celebrate our 80 degree weather, sunshine and crisp air as the seasons change up North and the winter moves in. Dance NOW! Miami (DNM), under the Co-Artistic leadership of Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini offers a beautiful and whimsical memory of the subtle change of seasons and reminds us of the beauty of live performance. Its Program I began  on Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and, this week, on Sunday, Dec. 10 is at Coral Gables' Sanctuary of the Arts.

Featuring a revival of the epic, ensemble piece, “Random Pattern of Falling Leaves,” an homage to the feel of Fall in the air, Program I audiences will experience the joy of movement combined with the elegance of the DNM dancers.

“Random” was created together by Salterini and Baumgarten in 2011 during their stay at Interlochen Arts Camp, a northern Michigan camp where the arts flourish, where the seasons change, and where the couple had been guests of the dance department numerous times.

Interlochen is a special place where creativity abounds. Nestled in the woods, there is natural beauty surrounding the dance studios that inspires work and choreography. Interlochen is located on a lake, music wafts through the trees, visual artists set up randomly to paint, plays and musicals are rehearsed then performed and dance flourishes. It is no wonder that “Random’ had its inception in these surroundings.

“We were there often in spring and summer. Experiencing the huge forests and seeing the trees, imagining what it feels like to be in the change of seasons; in the moment when leaves drop, flying around and twirling,” explains Salterini. “ The beautiful colors, luscious music by Arvo Pärt, 'Random’ is one of our most stunning pieces.”

The breathtaking work features costumes by Marylin Skow that are slowly removed to reveal a bare and streamlined look — much like trees losing their leaves. Bruce F. Brown has designed a luminous set and lighting to enhance the billowy look.

The DNM performers love "Random" because it is a piece where dancers can truly dance and move. All dance choreography is different and has various motivations. Sometimes there is a message, a narrative, and sometimes it is more gestural or technical. With "Random’"it is the sheer beauty of dance. Audiences feel what the dancers ‘bring to the stage’ and "Random" is a piece where audiences feel the joy that the dancers feel as they dance — a perfect synergy of beauty and joy.

Salterini went on to say, “We hope the audience feels what we feel when we watch it — which is 'ahhh,' like a big sigh, immersed in this lovely world.”

Baumgarten jumps in, “The dancers are so committed to this work and it shows. I think this piece is more beautiful than I remember it.”

The first half of the program has a brand new creation by Baumgarten called “Tethered” a solo called, “Let it Go” and concludes with Salterini’s 2005 work, “Chronicles.”

Speaking about “Chronicles” took the conversation in an entirely different direction.

Dance NOW! Miami in


Dance NOW! Miami in "Chronicles" with dancers, Colleen Farnum and Ana Bolt. (Photo by Jenny Abreu)

Baumgarten says, “It is one of the all-time DNM classic works.”

Salterini says that the creation of “Chronicles,” it was his first validation that he actually created, and perhaps, could create, a dance piece.

“I lived my life in big, chaotic cities, Rome, London, Milan, even here,” says Salterini, who is originally from Italy. “I met Larry (now my husband) in 2003 and I went with him to Medina, Ohio for his grandfather’s 90th birthday and to meet his family. It was so simple. There were many people there in the house and everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing to make it all so organized and smooth, like a clock. They were so welcoming, I was in love and it was all just so smooth. That was the rather blissful feeling I had when I created this piece.”

Using Philip Glass music and spoken word, “Chronicles” embodies the passion, the ecstacy, and the blissful wonder of love that Salterini felt then — and still feels now.

“Chronicles” is a piece filled with nostalgia. There is an easy narrative with numerous vignettes that viewers will see themselves in.

“It is positive, ponderous, and hopeful and definitely one of the DNM’s audience favorites,” says Baumgarten.

Choreography is difficult, and choreographers of all ages, styles and abilities are constantly judging their own work — often pleased and more often critical. As a choreographer knows, it is a constant voice realized and an even more constant need to create.

Over the past two years, Baumgarten has either revived her works or has co-choreographed with Salterini. She is very excited for her brand new creation, “Tethered.”

Being a ballet and contemporary dancer, using both pointe work and flat shoes, Baumgarten, wanted to create a piece that served the DNM dancers the best. She went through a number of iterations in the creation of “Tethered.” The casting changed, the pointe work to flat was decided and the size and cast members fluctuated.

“I wanted to make an abstract piece, that is loosely based on being connected. The state of interconnectedness, intersections, how do you pass each other, the state of interactions,” says Baumgarten.

She went to long-time collaborator Davidson Jaconello to create the score, with assistance from Felix Rosch.

“Tethered” is a playful romp, is very athletic and the four dancers shine.

The cast of Dance NOW! Miami in “Random Patterns of Falling Leaves.” (Photo by Jenny Abreu)


The cast of Dance NOW! Miami in “Random Patterns of Falling Leaves.” (Photo by Jenny Abreu)

“It is a little bit different from what we’ve presented in a while and I think it’s nice to re-introduce our audience to this aesthetic,” says Baumgarten. “It’s a little more edgy, some aggressive moments with rather Mondrian, angular costumes by Haydee Morales.”

Opening the show is “Let it Go” performed by David Jewitt. Baumgarten has a number of solos that she has created over the years based on personal experiences of love and heartbreak. In this solo, the story is told of pulling back the veil to expose heartlessness, and cruelty leaving feelings of being distraught, desperate and desolate. It is a very personal story.

Though personal, in this context, “Let it Go” is a powerful, yet pensive meditation on the suffering, distress and heartbreak of what is happening in our world at the moment.

“There is really a pride that is mixed in with the desperation and suffering, of being yanked in so many directions,” says Salterini.

“We’re all so heartbroken,” adds Baumgarten.

With rehearsals tight and the company working as a unified whole, both Salterini and Baumgarten give much praise and credit to Allyn Ginns, for her rehearsal abilities. Ginns is a meticulous force in making the pieces as polished and clean as possible. A former DNM dancer, Ginns has now stepped into the role of associate director, and dancer Julia Fortin has assumed the title of rehearsal director. Big changes to facilitate the many, many events and performances DNM undertakes.

“I think with this program,” says Salterini, “we wanted to just bring beauty, for the audience to be transported. There is so much going on in the world.”

Baumgarten concurs, “Even during these difficult times, we want to bring people to a place that has beauty and joy — a place that we can all really live in.”

Dance NOW! Miami 2023 Program I in Miami at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Sanctuary of the Arts, 410 Andalusia Avenue, Coral Gables. Tickets: $25 general admission, $15 for students

Tickets at

(305) 975-8489 or

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