The Florida Dance Festival returns for its 26th season with a roster of international performers, newly commissioned works, and a series of workshops and classes that show off the pervasive energy of dance in South Florida.
With its opening piece, Pasos y Sueños by Miami's own Duende Ballet Español, the festival also breathes life into the Byron Carlyle Theater (500 71st St., Miami Beach), a former movie house that makes its debut as an arts center with the festival's opening. And for the special event, Duende Ballet's artistic director and choreographer, Rosa Mercedes, is bringing Spanish flamenco artists Antonio Salcedo and Marisol Moreno and Mexico's Raul Salcedo to perform in various segments of Duende's passionate and haunting dance.
Also featured prominently are two performances that were commissioned in part by the Florida Dance Association, the festival's producing organization. The first commissioned piece debuts Friday, June 25, at the Byron Carlyle. Just Two Dancers, a playful and whimsical duet by New York's John Jasperse Company, has performers dancing onstage, throughout the theater, and above the heads of the audience. It's an interactive work in which the audience will be encouraged to view the dance with hand-held mirrors. According to Tom Thielen, the association's executive director, Just Two Dancers will challenge the ways in which audiences perceive dance performance.
The second commission was created by Seattle's Pat Graney Company and based on the paintings of outsider artist Henry Darger. The Vivian Girls brings to life the often-harrowing imagery of Darger's fervent and obsessive works on Friday and Saturday, July 2 and 3.
Rounding out the program is Oakland's AXIS Dance Company, which will perform its newest piece with Miami's danceAble, a company that works with wheelchair-(un)bound dancers. Tigertail Productions is co-producing the event.
This year the festival unveils programs that highlight the fringe edges of dance theater. Out Of Order, at PS 742 on Thursday, June 24, emphasizes nouveau work meant for intimate black box spaces. Also Countdown 3...2...1... becomes the dance festival's first full evening of improvisational dance at the New World Dance Theater.
Together with a schedule of workshops ranging from hip-hop to Pilates, Thielen promises to prove that the dance world's vital signs are indeed thriving.