When the pandemic hit, live dance halted, and companies shifted online. Now South Florida companies are increasingly capitalizing on outdoor performances to reunite performers and audiences for a safe and meaningful experience.
Among them is Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, which is presenting its first program of 2021 at 4 p.m. February 20 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay, on an outdoor stage built especially for the event.
Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg — artistic directors of Dimensions Dance and former Miami City Ballet principals — are betting audiences are ready to return for live performances.
“It’s beyond time,” Kronenberg says. “It’s lovely that we’ve all been doing virtual [performances], but at the end of the day, the art form is not about that. There is a big loss in the translation from live to digital. This is not where this art form lives.”
Adds Guerra: “We have to perform, and it can’t be all virtual... It is exciting that it is live, and it is important for the dancers.”
Dimensions Dance was a prominent content provider of virtual dance in 2020, with regular offerings that derived first from its archive and then from the creation of new online works. The spring program will be the first live, in-person performance for both the company and the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center since the start of the pandemic.
Eric Fliss, the center’s managing director, expresses confidence that the facility’s rigorous adherence to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal Guide” will provide a safe, socially distant experience for all involved.
The company established protocols to keep dancers safe and rehearsing throughout the fall, when numbers involved only two or three dancers. “Program I” increases the complexity because some works require the whole company to be onstage together.
“To handle that, we upped the strictness,” Kronenberg says. “The county requires testing of the dancers daily for seven days before the performance, and the dancers will wear masks during the performance.”
“Program I” will feature four works, with no intermission:
– The return of company favorite, “Esferas,” by choreographer and Miami City Ballet dancer Ariel Rose.
– The world premiere of “Castles in the Air,” choreographed by Dimension Dance Theatre’s Yanis Eric Pikieris. Set to composer Benjamin Britten’s “Bridge Variations,” it explores the sensation of being locked in a daydream.
“During the lockdown, we were dreaming of what the future might be, while acknowledging the present was what we had,” Pikieris says. “We were pretending we were together when we were actually taking class or choreographing through Zoom.
“In the piece, there is a duet where the two dancers — Maikel Hernandez and Mayrel Martinez –—come very close to one another, but they don’t actually ever touch. And I took a lot of inspiration from the music itself, which is heavy and could make people think of isolation and loss.”
– The company premiere of “Adiemus,” a work co-choreographed by Yanis Pikieris Sr. and David Palmer, which the Maximum Dance Co. premiered in 1998.
For Pikieris Sr., “Adiemus” celebrates the joy of reconnecting — and it will be the first full-length work that includes the entire company onstage at the same time in more than a year.
“This was choreographed by me and David Palmer when we were both directors of Maximum Dance Company as a dance of celebration and exuberance,” he says. “At that time, [my son] Yanis Eric was 3 years old. Now, for this performance, he will be dancing the role that I danced in it then.”
– Another company premiere: “RUTH: Ricordi per Due,” the final work choreographed by Joffrey Ballet artistic director Gerald Arpino, before his death in 2008, and set on the company by Cameron Basden, former Joffrey Ballet dancer and now repetiteur and board member for the Gerald Arpino Foundation.
Commissioned by Barbara Levy Kipper in the memory of her mother, Ruth Doctoroff Levy, the nine-minute pas de deux is set to the music of Italian baroque composer Tomaso Albinoni and reflects on the experience of remembered loss.
Basden emphasized the relevance of the piece to the present: “The idea of losing someone is so prevalent in our life right now. It could not be more appropriate for this time that we are in,” she says. “It expresses both the love that one feels for the people who are here and those no longer here.”
– Sean Erwin, ArtburstMiami.com
Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami’s“Program I.” 4 p.m. Saturday, February 20, at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay; smdcac.org. Tickets cost $45 for a pod (two seats).