“The Daniel Lewis Dance Sampler” is a fantastic way to kick-start the dance season, to find out who is doing what, when and to get a sample of the many dance offerings in the city of Miami. This year, the"Sampler," on Saturday, Oct. 20, with two shows at 3 and 8 p.m., features more inclusive performances than ever, with a very diverse range of dance organizations, as well as a pre-performance interactive discussion hosted by the Miami Dance Hub.
Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, co-artistic directors of Dance NOW! Miami, who are the “Sampler” curators and producers, have long seen the need and value of bringing dancers and dance organizations in the community together in a single performance space.
In the early 1980s, Daniel Lewis (founding dean of the Dance Department of New World School for the Arts) started the “Modern Dance Sampler” as a means for performers to work together on the same stage. Both Baumgarten and Salterini participated in the show in the late '90s, the very last year that Lewis hosted the performance.
“It was so memorable,” Baumgarten recalls. “We found out about dancers we didn’t know, companies we didn’t know about. We hung out together backstage. And we also saw that it was an amazing opportunity. The press covered it and all the companies performing were going to have their seasons during the rest of the year. And that was the last year.”
To that end, in 2009 Baumgarten and Salterini, presented the idea of a similar performance that would unite the dance community to Lewis, who immediately was on board, and, as an ode to the initial concept, “The Daniel Lewis Dance Sampler” was born.
Salterini said, “It was a great way, once a year, to bring the dance community together to not only present a variety of dance that was particular to Miami to the audience and for the community to come together, but it was a way, also, for the dancers to come together.”
“There was no centralized way for dancers to congregate in Miami and this was a once a year opportunity to do just that - to be together, to move together, to watch each other.” Baumgarten added.
“We started with just companies that were available.” Salterini said. “Then little by little, the momentum grew, companies wanted to participate, and now we have a rotating system.”
The idea was not just to bring the dancers together, but to give the audiences an overview, a taste of what the dance community in Miami had to offer.
“Our mission is that this is not for emerging choreographers, this is not for experimental groups. This is a showcase of Miami’s established companies and choreographers,” according toBaumgarten.
“The whole purpose is, sort of, an advertisement, a preview for audiences to see what will be happening in dance throughout the rest of the year. This only happens once a year.”
In Miami, because it is such a spread out community, there is no centralized dance space as exists in other cities.
"There is a sociological gap in the dance community in Miami. What happened this year, is that the Miami Dance Hub was born and, while we don’t have a centralized physical space, the Miami Dance Hub has provided a centralized virtual space. It is a perfect fit to add this pre-show discussion hosted by MDH. It’s an opportunity, really, to share with the audience, that in-between place of what happens in the studio and what happens on the stage.”
The companies performing are Arts Ballet Theater, Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, Dance NOW! Miami Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, Fuentes Stephanie Dance Project, Karen Peterson and Dancers, Momentum Dance Company, New World Dance Ensemble, and the Pioneer Winter Dance Collective.
The newest performing organizations to join are Alma Dance Theater and “Tango Out” which is directed by dance advocate, Ray Sullivan.
Salterini summed up what effect this yearly occasion has. “One of the most special moments, I think, is when we’re taking class together as a group before the first show. It is such a beautiful moment. That feeling of unity is what we share with the audience, and what we share with each other. It really speaks to all of us. ”
The Daniel Lewis Dance Sampler
New World Center for the Arts, 25 NE 2nd St. 8th Floor, Miami, FL 33132
Saturday, Oct 20, Pre-Show discussion at 2 p.m., performance at 3 p.m.
Pre-Show discussion at 7 p.m., performance at 8 p.m.
Tickets $25 General, $15 Students & Senior
dancenowmiami.org or tinyurl.com/DanceSampler