What happens to old dances? Do they slowly disappear as choreographers and dancers move on to other projects? Not if an effort is made to revive the piece — reconstruct it and present it anew to an audience. That's the case with Ritmo Jondo (Deep Rhythm), a seminal work by Doris Humphrey, one of the foremost choreographers and dancers of modern dance.
Choreographed in 1953 and set in Spain, the work examines the relationship between men and women during a time, and within a culture, with established mores for the sexes. Using the passion of flamenco, it’s an intriguing piece filled with shifting rhythms. Humphrey chose Carlos Suriñach's evocative music Ritmo Jondo: Flamenco for Orchestra for her piece. Scores of Suriñach, a Catalan composer, were also used by Martha Graham in Acrobats of God and Embattled Gardens.
“The hardest part of reconstruction was the first movement for the men,” says Hannah Baumgarten, co-artistic director of Dance Now! Miami. “It was done without counts and was very challenging.” Daniel Lewis, founding dean of the dance department at Miami’s New World School of the Arts and a former dancer and artistic director of the José Limón Dance Company, worked with the Dance Now! troupe to reconstruct the piece, which will make its Florida debut Friday.
Lewis conducted a two-week seminar teaching the style of the Limón technique. Dance Now! is a company that performs works by a variety of choreographers. “Other voices serve as a counterpoint to our work,” Baumgarten explains.
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House on Fire, scheduled to be performed alongside Ritmo Jondo, is Baumgarten’s contemporary jazz piece. It has the sense of a New Orleans club scene. With music by Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, and Medeski, Martin & Wood, it’s a playful look at “club rats” in their search for companionship. Baumgarten describes it as a sort of musical chairs game, as “each person seeks their partner… depicting different relationships of friendship, passion, and love.”
Also in the lineup is Sogni, in which Dance Now! Miami co-artistic director Diego Salterini presents a series of dreamlike visions in a nonnarrative manner. Salterini explains Sogni sometimes has the feel of being in a dark vacuum, with sparks of “floating poetry.”
— Diana Dunbar, Artburstmiami.com
8:30 p.m. Friday at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $35, or $15 for students and seniors. Visit dancenowmiami.org.