'Diavolo' Soars Beyond Grasp of Gravity

Innovative Fusion of Dance, Movement, Skill Comes to the Arsht Center


Diana Dunbar

"Diavolo/ Architecture in Motion"  can best be described by what it isn't more than what it is. It isn't a modern dance or ballet company. It isn't a circus or in anyway similar to Cirque du Soleil. "It's its own thing, a beautiful fusion of movement with architectural bonds," says Jacques Heim, the artistic director of the company which he founded in Los Angeles in 1992. They will appear on Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

Heim was born and grew up in Paris; he says he was a rebel and was thrown out of six schools. He eventually made his way to California where he graduated from California Institute of the Arts. Heim's plan was to be an architect. "I love the language of architecture," he says. He founded his company, he explains," because I'm interested in the human body and the architectural bond." In 1992 there weren't many dance companies exploring architecture and dance. The dance landscape may have changed over the years, but Diavolo has maintained Heim's artistic vision.

To produce one of "Diavolo's" pieces involve a collaboration between architects, engineers and Heim. They examine motion, functionality, space and time to slowly come up with a structure. Next, Heim creates multiple drawings then gives them to the architect. The next step is to take the structure to the studio in downtown Los Angeles. At this point Heim instructs his dancers to "go play, go discover how you feel around it." Heim asks himself three questions when creating a piece: where do we come from, how did everything get started and where are we going? Each piece brings different answers and different angles.


Heim spoke of the importance of communities. His pieces, he says, are extremely physical and mentally demanding and at times dangerous. He likes to place his dancers in a state of danger, a state of survival. "When you put a group in a state of survival they rise up to the occasion; they become stronger, together as humans, as a community, and as a family."

Heim wanted to create a company that celebrates humanity.

"Modern society actually eliminates that aspect of helping one another... we forget to help one another." 

Each artistic director looks for certain traits in a dancer. Heim looks for someone unique. He says he looks for a dancer with individuality. Someone "ready to move like it was his or her last day on earth." " A dancer can't hide behind the work of Diavolo; it's too complex, too dangerous and it shows your strength and weakness."


The theme for Saturday's program is "Destiny and Destination." "Voyage" is first on the program and deals with a young woman who feels lost in herself, lost in her direction in life. Through her dreams she escapes into a surreal land. The piece was inspired in part about space travel. She longs to go far away like only an astronaut can. "Voyage" celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and Heim says it is filled with kinetic energy.

"Trajectoire" is about the human experience. It's about being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and finding balance in life. It demonstrates that we need others to help us in life.

Heim says the two pieces explore what it takes to reach within and outside ourselves, showing us that it takes a community to make a life.

"Diavolo/Architecture in Motion"

  • Saturday, October 12; 7:30 p.m.
  • Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
  • 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami 33132
  • Tickets $45-$85. Call 786-468-2000 or

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