Music Streams From the Nile to Florida

Categories: Dance

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Photo by Matjaz Kacicnik
Like few other rivers, the Nile has captured humankind's imagination from antiquity to today -- a source of life and inspiration, but of conflict as well. Just ask the men and women who integrate the group of performers, educators and activists known as the Nile Project.

Incredible music springs from the river's fertile banks. But so do cultural and environmental challenges - from booming populations to ecological degradation to political meddling. The urgency of helping preserve its basin for future generations prompted Egyptian-American ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero to launch an initiative in 2011 that would address those issues.

With backgrounds as diverse as Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia and Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, musicians and singers were invited to join a collective effort that would give voice to the Nile and its issues through music. Last year, the artists took their musical creations to nearby countries; this year, they have brought their efforts to the United States.

See also: Focus: Local Dance on Film at ScreenDance Miami

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Focus: Local Dance on Film at ScreenDance Miami

Categories: Dance

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Courtesy of Magnus Sodamin
Illuminations by Magnus Sodamin
This week Tigertail Productions presents its second ScreenDance Miami festival, which will highlight mostly local choreographers and filmmakers who are working with movement and dance on film, and dance on camera.

Many dance makers are experienced with using video and film to record and preserve dance compositions and performances, or to use video and film as a notation tool to restage a piece.But these festival artists are exploring new concepts and techniques combining the visual and movement attributes of dance with cinematic expression and essentially broadening the look, tone and location of dance.

This year the event includes the festival opening with an international offering at Perez Art Museum Miami on Wednesday followed by screenings each night respectively at the Screening Room, Miami Beach Cinematheque, and the closing two nights on Saturday and Sunday at Inkub8.

See also: Water Dance Project Takes To the Beach

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Water Dance Project Takes To the Beach

Categories: Dance

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Photo by Dale Andree
Water Dance
When dancing in tandem with the elements, anything can happen, which is part of the beauty of The National Water Dance Project's site-specific performance on Saturday, taking place on the sand and on the edge of the water in North Beach.

"The sand, the water, affects the way the body moves," says Miami choreographer Dale Andree, whose National Water Dance Project last April at the Deering Estate included 26 states with more than 80 simultaneous water dance projects that were meant to draw attention to water issues across the United States, including sea-level rise in Florida.
Saturday's event is "completely local," says Andree, who adds that she'll be doing another national event in 2016. "I didn't want to lose the momentum, so I was looking to find a way to do something locally."

She found the perfect piggyback with the MDC Live presentation of The Nile Project -- musicians from Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and other Nile River Basin lands, who sing songs about the world's longest river and the people it sustains. Andree will present her own choreography along with works by Michelle Grant-Murray, director/coordinator of dance at Miami Dade College/Kendall Campus, whose Olujimi Dance Theatre will perform. Also performing will be Momentum Dance Company, led by MDC Dance Faculty member Delma Iles, Momentum's artistic director and founder. The program is produced by Miami Dance Futures and will feature students from New World School of the Arts and Miami Dade College's Jubilation Dance Ensemble.

See also: ScreenDance Miami's Second Year to Kick Off at PAMM: "It Paints Such a Picture of the City"


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Alonzo King LINES Ain't Balanchine, and That's a Good Thing

Categories: Dance

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Photo via Alonzo King LINES
An Alonzo King dance is almost unimaginable without facility of movement, those forcefully shifting patterns of gorgeous bodies that make for a seductive surface. Yet what gives greater value to the program this San Francisco-based choreographer's LINES Ballet is bringing to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center this weekend is its depth and range of vision. The featured works -- Concerto for Two Violins, to Johann Sebastian Bach, and Writing Ground, to a collage of multicultural sacred music -- respect history and report on universals of the human condition.

"We think of the work as thought structures -- ideas put into physical form," says King. "When we tour, we have the opportunity to share those ideas across continents and cultures with thousands of people. There are no set expectations about what people should take away. Our primary focus is to stir minds and move hearts."

King's take on Concerto in D minor for Two Violins, the music for 1941's Concerto Barocco, one of Balanchine's most revered and representative works, is both gutsy and intriguing. In the Balanchine-centric world of American ballet, the late great master's artistry is often used to measure new choreographic efforts, separating saints from sinners depending on their distance from dance divinity. Compared to Balanchine's achievement, how similar, how different, is King's 2013 effort? And, through it, what can we learn about the possibilities of ballet beyond a 20th-century high point?

See also: South Floridian Mykal Laury Dances His Way Through Lion King

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ScreenDance Miami's Second Year to Kick Off at PAMM: "It Paints Such a Picture of the City"

Categories: Dance

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Courtesy of ScreenDance Miami
In the world of dance and movement, utilizing film as a medium opens up a new world of options not available in live, site-specific performance. Boundaries can be broken, the laws of physics can be defied -- when film is involved, anything is possible.

And here in Miami, anything is on the agenda. ScreenDance Miami, launching its second annual event on January 23, is a unique festival dedicated to showcasing the amazing art of dance on film that's burgeoning in our backyard.

See also: ScreenDance: A New Blend of Choreography and Film in Miami

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Miami City Ballet's Director, Ballerinas Reveal Intimacies, Physicality of Balanchine, Sinatra

Categories: Dance

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Courtesy of Miami City Ballet
Nine Sinatra Songs
The best choreographers are prodigious ministers, sealing holy unions between movement and sound. To great effect, Balanchine made it his gospel to "see the music, hear the dance," the inspiration for Miami City Ballet's second program of the season, which kicks off this Friday.

MCB's offerings are diverse while representing three master choreographers at a peak of musicality. From Balanchine comes Symphony in Three Movements, a colossal treatment of Stravinsky; Paul Taylor contributes the bright Mercuric Tidings, to movements from Schubert's first two symphonies; and Twyla Tharp swings out with Nine Sinatra Songs, by turns elegant and rascally.

"Programming is sort of a Rubik's cube," says MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez, admitting to the problems of fitting dances together -- in the way corps and principals are highlighted, in the sequence of moods, in the demands on dancers. "All three pieces in this program could be closers," she says in reference to the strong impressions the audience will take home after the last curtain.

See also: Miami City Ballet's Heatscape Chosen for Guggenheim Series

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Miami City Ballet's Heatscape Chosen for Guggenheim Series

Categories: Dance, News

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via Miami City Ballet's Facebook
Dancers rehearse for Heatscape.
On Monday, organizers of the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process series announced that they had chosen Justin Peck's Heatscape for inclusion in the prestigious series. The Guggenheim's series offers audiences' insight into both the creators and performers of forthcoming works. It's also is meant to preview what insiders believe to be the best dance choreography of the upcoming year. Heatscape will begin the Guggenheim's spring season on January 18 and 19 -- two months before the new work is scheduled to debut at the Miami City Ballet. Heatscape will premier at MCB on March 27 and run until April 19.

For those too impatient to wait for the MCB's premier, the Guggenheim will live stream the January 18 performance at guggenheim.org/live.

See also: Womanizer, Bus Driver, Doper, Zen Teacher -- Teo Castellanos' Life Is in His Plays

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Teo Castellanos Revises Fat Boy

Categories: Dance

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Photo by Pedro Portal
Most performers will agree that a show never really feels like it is complete until close to the closing night of a run. This sentiment was true for Teo Castellanos when he premiered Fat Boy at Miami Light Project's Light Box at Goldman Warehouse in 2011. He's back with a tweaked, revised version this week at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Set to a soundtrack by DJ le Spam of the Spam Allstars, Fat Boy explores the juxtaposition of consumerism and poverty in the modern world through text and movement that borrow from contemporary and ancient rituals.
Although performed to sold out audiences, to Castellanos and his company, it didn't quite feel finished. "We knew it needed a lot more work; we didn't feel like the show was done," recalls writer/director and performer Castellanos. [Note: the writer once worked with Miami Light Project.]

See also: Womanizer, Bus Driver, Doper, Zen Teacher -- Teo Castellanos' Life Is in His Plays


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The Nutcracker Makes Its Way Around Miami's Ballets

Categories: Dance

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Thomas Armour Youth Ballet
The December holidays are approaching and along with them, as sure as thicker waists and thinner wallets, The Nutcracker. Big-scaled or modest, all-local or propped up by imported talent, there's a production of America's most popular ballet to suit any taste.

But please don't take the predictable assortment for granted or chuckle too readily at insider jokes: Who quipped that every Christmas just finds us another Nutcracker closer to death? Going to watch this dance is one of our few artistic and cultural rituals, which not only keeps studios busy and theaters full but also bolsters time-tested values.

See also: Leads in Miami City Ballet's Romeo and Juliet Delve Into Tragic Teenage Roles

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Israeli Director Blends World Dance and Music Into One Vision

Categories: Dance

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Photo by Frank Bicking
Dancer: Krista Montrone
Ronen Koresh, long a distinguished dancer and since 1991 artistic director of his own company, is fearless in his defiance of borders. Appearing at the Arsht Center this week, the choreography of this Israeli native, now established in Philadelphia, draws from ballet, folk, modern and jazz dance and uses music that ranges from classical to industrial with samplings of world traditions in between.

And the question Koresh's approach prompts is not how such eclecticism can be effective but, given his bracing talent, how it could be otherwise.

"My art highlights my interests, all the beautiful things I come in contact with," says Koresh. "I'm not a snob. I try to connect to the pulse of what's happening right now. That's how I can best add my voice out there in this huge world."

See also: Nathalie Zarate: Belly-Dance Superstar

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