Novel Moves

Three figures covered in powdery white body paint squirm together on the floor, tying their bodies into a living knot, struggling to disentangle themselves, anxiously rolling and stretching in a mass of intertwined limbs. The woman climbs over the two men, transforming the knot into a tower, and then descends back into the chaos.

In this sequence from Maria Helena Thevenot's experimental dance Eslabón, the choreographer achieves her goal of presenting "moving energy" particularly well. The movements in Eslabón, one of six short performance pieces that the Miami Light Project will present this week in Here and Now -- A Festival of Contemporary Performance, are based on butoh, a school of avant-garde Japanese dance-theater.

This past week Thevenot's Bluedance Company, along with the other artists slated to perform in Here and Now, held open rehearsals at the studios of the Miami Light Project, a nonprofit organization that has been enriching the arts in South Florida for a decade. The fifth annual festival features newly commissioned works by South Florida dancers, musicians, and actors. "One of our biggest goals is to support the creation of new work in this community," says Elizabeth Boone, artistic and executive director for Miami Light Project.

The six principal artists in Here and Now, selected by Miami Light after reviewing some 30 proposals, are based in Miami but come from Nicaragua, Brazil, Austria, Canada, and Cuba. The effects of their works range from the absurd to the disturbing to the elegant. Their pieces may include any combination of pure dance, spoken word, theater, or music. "The festival is completely eclectic with respect to genre and cultural influence," Boone says. "It's so utterly reflective of Miami."

And it wouldn't be Miami, of course, if it didn't include dictators and diversity. Octavio Campos's often lighthearted piece 4 Eye & F features a cartoonish, pot-bellied version of Fidel Castro smoking a stogie and bounding across the stage. Mike Maria's miniplay I, Adolf Hitler depicts the Nazi leader wrestling with his conscience and agonizing over images of the Holocaust. Adrian Castro and Jessica Roseman's collaboration Them Bones relies on poetry and dance to portray ritualistic collecting of African ancestors' bones. Dancer Giovanni Luquini's energetic duet with Elaine Wright interprets the interaction between two "urban animals." And Andrew Yeomanson's improvised multimedia set presents sounds blended on synthesizers and turntables while images meld on a screen.

DJ mixes, dictators, New Wave Japanese fare, and everything in between: The Here and Now pieces are as disparate as their creators. Nevertheless Boone points out that they also have certain things in common: "Every single one is a highlight in this performance. They're all great, and they're all absolutely unique."

-- Alex Salinas

Here and Now -- A Festival of Contemporary Performance takes place at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, June 3, through Saturday, June 5, at Timba, 2898 Biscayne Blvd. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-576-4350.

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Alex Salinas