After 34 years of creating modern dance in Miami, Momentum Dance Company’s artistic director and founder, Delma Iles, shows no sign of slowing. The company celebrates its anniversary this week at Miami Beach's Colony Theatre with two performances featuring three new dance works from Iles herself.
Leading Momentum Dance has been the 61-year-old's job and
"I started [dancing] because I wanted to create work. When I talk to younger dancers, I tell them it's not enough to love dance; it's not enough to love what you are doing. Your career is like a child, and you have to take care of it."
For the 34th-anniversary show, Iles has put together a program that celebrates the company's history and the care she has committed to the art form. Poems of Scriabin by modern-dance pioneer Anna Sokolow was created for Iles in 1985 and is a piece the company performs every few years.
Iles met Sokolow during a dance class in the mid-1980s. “We were a small struggling dance company, and she was in town and she gave a choreography workshop,” Iles recalls. “She really liked my work and said, ‘I wanted to see your company.’ She wanted to do something to help us, and this piece was what she could give. It’s a beautiful work in two movements. She’s known for a very aggressive style and another side that’s more lyrical, and this piece is her more lyrical side.”
Of the three pieces the company will premiere, Irresistible Pop is more comic. Iles explains, “It’s very challenging to do comedy. A lot of us modern dancers take ourselves so seriously, and everyone wants to make big, heavy statements, but comedy is the most difficult thing to do.
"It’s very difficult to make a joke without words!”
Taking inspiration from bubble wrap, the piece features dancers performing on a stage covered with the packing material; they pop the plastic with their elbows and feet. "The dancers are making the accompaniment for the dance while they are dancing it," the choreographer explains. "The rhythms are drawn from tango and classical ballet and other well-known rhythms."
Forms Follow Man is a series of character portraits that shifts the mood. "The whole piece is kind of dark and very active," Iles says. "We are playing around with the idea of disaffected youth.”
The third new work, Dido, takes its inspiration from Roman poet Virgil’s epic Aeneid. "It is a lament about being abandoned. Women are rejected all the time, so the specific story is ancient, but the theme is not." For the performance, a massive veil shrouds the stage, and a solo dancer performs beneath it, at times using the material as a partner.
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Closing the program is a work of Iles' from last season, Birds of the Inner Eye. A large-scale piece featuring live music, it was inspired by an exhibition of paintings by artists from the Pacific Northwest, whose work Iles saw during a trip to Seattle several years ago. "It's very contemporary but has a very delicate, spiritual quality."
As Iles looks toward the future, she remains committed to making work that educates audiences about modern dance. "If you're alive and alert and paying attention, things will inspire you — there is no lack of inspiration. That's what we are in business to do."
— Rebekah Lanae Lengel, artburstmiami.com
Momentum Dance Company Spring Performances
8 p.m. Saturday, April 3, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 4, at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 the day of the show; students and seniors pay $12. Available at the Colony Box Office, by calling 305-674-1040, or by visiting momentumdance.com.