Miami choreographer Rosie Herrera has never felt luckier.
This week, the 29-year-old Hialeah native’s troupe makes its New York debut at the Joyce Theater, one of the city’s top dance venues, at a prestigious showcase for international arts presenters. And in April, the Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre will perform at the Big Apple’s Baryshnikov Arts Center — at the invitation of its famous artistic director, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who has become a fan.
No Miami choreographer has had this kind of platform in the nation’s dance capital.
“I always feel like someone’s about to pull the carpet out from under me and say, ‘We’re tricking you!’ ” Herrera says over quiche at a Design District café. “How can one girl be so lucky?”
More important than luck, of course, is Herrera’s talent, and the support it has attracted. For three years, one of the biggest and best-known dance events in the country, the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., has commissioned and presented her dreamlike, emotionally freighted dance-theater pieces. And the Adrienne Arsht Center has co-commissioned and presented them in Miami.
“It’s such an amazing thing to feel like you have these two organizations behind you who really believe in your vision,” Herrera says. “The greatest honor is that so many people are connecting to my work.”
Festival director Jodee Nimerichter picked Herrera for the Joyce showcase, part of an Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference that draws hundreds of arts presenters shopping for work. Most groups perform short excerpts in bare-bones studios, but Herrera will get a full production of her Various Stages of Drowning: A Cabaret Thursday and Saturday. The Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre will share the Joyce series with five established New York-area troupes, some of which she has admired for years.
“It feels like the biggest show of my life,” says Herrera, a New World School of the Arts graduate. “I’m on the same program with Eiko and Koma! And Doug Varone!”
Nimerichter believes Herrera is ready for the high-profile venue. “I wanted to give her a platform to show her work because I firmly believe it is great work,” she said. “It is an extraordinary opportunity for her work to get seen by presenters from across the U.S. and the world who could find themselves enlightened by something new and original.”
Nimerichter also brought Herrera to Baryshnikov’s attention, including her work in DVDs she sent to him for programming consideration. Herrera’s was the only one the Russian dance star selected. The two met in March, when Baryshnikov came to Miami for a show of his photographs at the Gary Nader Gallery, while Herrera was rehearsing her latest piece, Dining Alone, for a show at the Arsht.
Herrera, whose eclectic résumé includes dancing in rap videos and Little Havana cabarets, says she was initially more excited to see a famous ’80’s hip-hop dancer at the Nader gallery. “My dancers were all freaking out that Baryshnikov was coming to rehearsal,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! It’s pop master Fabel Pabon!’ ”
But finding out that her work moved the dance legend turned out to be far more gratifying. “He said he laughed really hard, and then he would be ashamed that he laughed,” Herrera says.