Dance NOW! Miami, led by the artistic team of Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, continues its mission of bringing dance that speaks to everyone in Program I, a performance of “New Voices” at the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road on Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 9.
Salterini is very clear about the encompassing stretch of Dance NOW.
He said, “Our vision is to create a company that has a range of offerings. We want to create programs that have enough variety that everyone can leave with something. That is why we offer the assortment of works and different initiatives. Since the very beginning, we’ve always believed in collaboration.”
“New Voices” is one of the company initiatives, which also includes “Masterpieces In Motion” through which the company has performed works of Gerald Arpino, José Limón, and Doris Humphrey. With the “Miami Open Stage” initiative that highlights new, emerging choreographers, Salterini and Baumgarten developed “New Voices” which allows choreographers with a unique voice, who are in the process of creating their own company and choreography, to be invited to Miami to create a piece on the Dance NOW dancers.
Salterini said, “We want to highlight various voices for our company and for our audiences. In this case, Christopher Rudd, a Jamaican born, raised in Miami choreographer/dancer who has performed all over the world, was a Thomas Armour Youth Ballet student and a New World School of the Arts graduate and now has moved on as a choreographer, is a perfect fit to work with our company. His work is very contemporary and reflects what is happening now.”
Adding Rudd’s choreography as a “New Voice”, the Colony program will be a mix of new work and revivals that are suited to skills and artistic strengths of the present company dancers.
Dance choreography is inspired or conceived in multiple ways. Perhaps the music, a story, a particular dancer, or even all of the above. Salterini’s opening piece on the program has its own story of conception from Interlochen, Michigan.
Interlochen is a huge arts camp where Salterini and Baumgarten spend their summers as instructors and creators. Encompassing all the arts, it is also an atmosphere that is conducive for collaboration. This is where the opening piece, “Melody In Four Parts” was conceived.
Salterini said, “The beauty of Interlochen is that we have this amazing opportunity to collaborate with other artists. I met musician, Jenny Merkowitz, based in Ohio and Jeneé J. Baugher, a creative writer who is based in Seattle. We had plenty of dinners and wine together!”
Salterini had a phrase in mind that he felt should be a poem. He challenged Jeneé to write something that was inspired by the phrase. Jeneé, being a good sport, jumped at the challenge, and a year later, pulling from personal experience and knowledge, wrote a poem that spoke to four stages of life: Birth, Life, Death and Beyond. Merkowitz came on board to create the score, and without ever physically meeting, “Melody In Four Parts: Just Traveling” was born.
Salterini said, “It is a piece that is very dear to my heart. My mother had just passed away and that resonated in this piece. It was originally created in 2008 and has taken on a new life with the present dancers. I’m very proud of this piece.”
“Grace” (which means Hannah and is Baumgarten’s namesake) is a solo that evolves into a duet. In the Jewish culture, it is the story of a woman, Hannah, who could not bear children and was made to feel that she was “not complete.” In Hannah’s silent communication directly with God, she made a contract that she would give birth to a son. In return, she would give her son to the priesthood. Hannah was known as the first woman who had silent prayer with God, a tradition which has continued through the ages. It is a story of love, strength and commitment.
Baumgarten said, “There is an unseen pressure that a woman should have a family. Creating this piece was an investigation for me. I have chosen not to have children. I think the manifestation of this piece is my journey, but also the journey of anyone who must give up something they love.”
“Random Patterns of Falling Leaves” created by both Salterini and Baumgarten, is a very moody piece that is an homage to fall. The northern U.S. experiences fall very differently than Miami does. Salterini and Baumgarten wanted to bring the color and starkly beautiful essence that they had experienced through their travels to Miami audiences.
“It is very calm, leaves falling and twirling, the trees shedding, funnels of billowing air, and then suddenly it becomes very powerful and agitated,” Salterini said. “We hope the audience goes on this journey and walks out with a big sigh.”
To round out the program, Salterini and Baumgarten, knowing his encompassing Miami connections, chose Rudd over two other choreographers for the “New Voices” project funded by Citizens Interested in Arts and the Miami Salon Group.
Raised in Miami, Rudd has started a company in New York, now in its third year, called Rudder Dances. He has been working with Dance Now artists for two weeks at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and has had Daniel Lewis, founding dean of dance at New World School of the Arts, as his mentor in the choreographic process.
Rudd said, “This is the first time that I am creating in Miami with a mentor. To be given Dean Lewis as a mentor to guide my thinking, have his eye, and to move me forward when the time calls for it has been really helpful. We have lunch every day and speak about the work, the process and how it’s coming along. It’s been really valuable.”
Rudd feels that he didn’t have his own voice in his early choreographic forays, that it was mostly a copy of choreographers that he was working with. Now that he has stopped dancing, he feels that his own voice can be more present and have a stronger impact in his work. He allows his choreographic process to evolve as a conversation between himself and the dancers. He wants individuals to find their own impetus and motivation through the movement he gives them. He tries to find the truth for himself and invites the dancers to bring their lives into the piece.
“This piece for Dance NOW is nothing like what I thought would happen,” Rudd said. “I like to make my voice as vague as I can to allow the dancers to go on the journey that they need to go on, to make the piece honest. I want the audience to connect with moments on the stage for who they are at that time.”
“I’ve really enjoyed this process. Being in the studio and creating is my fun. The way these dancers move is not necessarily how I move, so we’ve been finding a compromise in our styles. That compromise in the journey is the piece itself.”
Rudd concluded, “Many artists that grow up in Miami long for reasons to come back here and work. This has been a great experience. Not only to come back to create and be given a mentor, but one with such a wealth of information and knowledge. I am just so grateful and hopeful that more opportunities present themselves.
Dance NOW! Miami Program I featuring “New Voices”
- 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
For tickets: www.colonymb.org/dance-now-miami
- 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 at Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112th Ave. Miami, FL 33176
For tickets: tickit.alperjcc.org/Attractions
For more info: www.dancenowmiami.org or firstname.lastname@example.org or Call: 305.975.8489