Diavolo, the Los Angeles dance troupe that opens the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center’s season this weekend, embraces radical acrobatics and outrageous sets to create performances that are fun and thought-provoking.
The two new pieces on its program include Artistic Director Jacques Heim’s Transit Space, which combines behavior patterns, architectural structures and street-culture elements such as skateboards in a surrealist exploration of the blurred line between beauty and absurdity of in human relationships.
We spoke with long-time Diavolo performer and collaborator Chisa Yamaguchi, 29, about the troupe’s process and artistic impetus.
Q. Jacques Heim bases much of his choreography on human behavior — the dark and the comical. Why?
Humans are very fragile and very powerful at the same time, and our reactions to everyday happenings are authentic to our experiences. Whether we understand it or not, we are affected and inspired by our environments. Watch someone in the streets and see where their journey takes them, perhaps through a revolving door where they get stuck and no one else seems to notice; see how they react in their struggle, in a humorous moment in their life.
Q. Unexpected objects — walls, giant doors, stairs to nowhere — inhabit Diavolo productions. What do they contribute?
The structures are the essence in the work of Diavolo. There would be nothing without a structure. We are always 100 percent interacting with our environment and architectural world. You are affected by the lighting in a room, the table you are sitting at, the doors you walk through everyday. What would your life and world be without the landscape around you?
Q. What is the biggest challenge putting together such a huge production with so many moving parts?
The biggest challenge is that all of the elements have to fuse well together and have to look fluid, organic and visceral. Sometimes that process and those elements fight one another and often the true result of the merging of these elements and the success of them is not revealed until you’re close to the end.
Like in the NFL, as much as teams practice, they can’t predict the direction the game will go until they are already in it, and perhaps it isn’t until the last play that they know.
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