"This performance has been many, many years in the making," exclaims renowned Cuban choreographer and dancer Marianela Boan in reference to her one-woman piece Blanche, based on the wilting magnolia of a woman from Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire. Decades ago Boan read the work and was drawn to the tragic and contradictory Blanche DuBois. "I was impressed with the psychological depth of the character," she recalls. "At the same time, there's a lot of dramatic movement and action. I thought it would lend itself well to dance."
An internationally recognized avant-garde choreographer known for her "contaminated dance" style blending movement with gestures, voice, and passion, Boan crafts pieces rife with sharp humor and risky emotional content. But the realization of this solo work didn't come immediately for her. Creating Blanche was an obsession for many years. "Every time I finished a project, I would return to Blanche and think, 'I have to do this,'" she explains, "but the piece didn't have meaning until I could find a way to express my own reality through the character."
After extensive research, exploration, and collaboration with Cuban director Raul Martin, Boan discovered a parallel between Williams's Southern belle and an entire generation of women in her own country. While the character fruitlessly clings to the norms and ideals of a decaying Southern aristocracy, Boan's choreography reveals a generation of women who lost the idealism that accompanied the communism of Cuba in the Seventies. "The society that sustained our utopia disappeared," she says. "Through Blanche, I am able to express the pain of this loss."
Blanche, which premiered in Cuba in 1999 and has made its way to New York, Los Angeles, Denmark, Mexico, and Peru, will have its Miami debut at last this weekend courtesy of Florida International University's Intercultural Dance and Music Institute in association with Miami Light Project.
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