When Benoit Swan-Pouffer discusses the latest production of the Cedar Lake Ensemble, "Beyond the Red," his French accent thickens and his words trip over each other in excitement. His passion is audibly apparent, as well it should be. As the resident choreographer of this young dance ensemble, he is able to bring his artistic vision to life. But the productions staged by the Cedar Lake Ensemble aren't conceived by one man alone. "The creative process is totally collaborative. We came up with the story line with the crew members, the sound designer, and the videographer," Swan-Pouffer explains. A performance by the Cedar Lake Ensemble captures the audience's imagination with thrilling dance moves and elements of music, theater, and film.
"Beyond the Red" is a contemporary ballet about a couple transported to a more passionate world, one in which they find their love challenged. The pace doesn't slow, not even for an intermission. The dancers leap, pirouette, and plié nonstop for more than an hour. Principal female dancer Jolene Baldini is feeling the pain. "This is definitely testing my endurance. My partner and I start off the ballet, and pretty much there isn't a scene where we have a break off-stage. And it's a pointe shoe ballet, so I'm going through several pairs," Baldini says. Miami-born ballerina Alexandra Gonzales enjoys the physical challenge: "I think it's better for the audience. You get more involved with the story because it's delivered in one shot."
"Our goal is to take the audience on a journey, to transport them to our wonderland," Swan-Pouffer adds. The energy and enthusiasm of these dancers, combined with the fantastic images projected onstage, will make for a dazzling voyage. See "Beyond the Red" Thursday, May 19, or Friday, May 20, at 8:00 p.m. at the Gusman Center, 174 E Flagler St, Miami. Tickets range from $25 to $35; $15 for students and seniors. Call 305-358-5885, or visit www.gusmancenter.org. Learn more about the Cedar Lake Ensemble at www.cedarlakensemble.com.