Although the world seems to have been upended since last week, life, art, and - especially this week - dance still go on. Starting Thursday, Miami will see a terrific array of dance performances that is rare, if not unprecedented, for a single week, a reflection of how the city's cultural landscape and tastes have expanded.
And while none of the shows were made with politics in mind, all of them, in very different ways, offer some of the best qualities that open, questing and hopeful minds can create. They range from a choreographer with attitude and an eagerness to mix up genres; an exploration of female identity, rage and power; a 70-year old company carrying on the vision of one of modern dance's creators; and a new ballet troupe launched by a beloved Miami dance couple.
Charismatic, Scottish-born Michael Clark started as a kind of choreographic bad boy in the 1980's, making often sexually-tinged work with a rock-n-roll kind of ostentatious, rebellious glamour - making dances set to David Bowie and Patti Smith, overcoming an addiction to heroin. He's been called the "iconoclast" of British dance. More recently, Clark has been collaborating with prominent visual artists and making site specific work, like a sweeping piece made with mostly non-dancers for England's Tate Modern in 2010. Those kinds of outside dance connections led the Institute for Contemporary Art, the still under-construction space in the Design District, to bring Clark and his company to Miami for the first time. They've been creating and rehearsing at the campus of the National YoungArts Foundation for several weeks, and the new piece will be on view at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday at the Jewelbox, the strange and spectacular stained glass building, at 2100 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami. Tickets are $15 at eventbrite.com.
Seattle choreographer Pat Graney has long explored women's identities and psyches, and she began making "Girl Gods" in 2012, as the second part of a project she started in 2008. Yet, as this illuminating interview by Artburst's Catherine Annie Hollingsworth reveals, the piece seems newly relevant in the wake of the loss of the first serious female candidate for president, and the misogyny expressed by her rival and some of his supporters. "Girl Gods," which the Miami Light Project presents this weekend, deals with female rage, how it's often repressed, and handed down through generations. Plenty of women will understand those feelings now - and, as Graney told Artburst, is very much what she hopes. (Read the full interview here.)
"I hope that people identify with it and take hope and power from it. Not the repression. I think we all have enough of that. But I think that finding a volcano opening for this rage is important, and I think it’s going to be more important in the coming years."
"Girl Gods" is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Wynwood. Tickets are $15 to $25 at miamilightproject.com.
Martha Graham is the best known amongst the founders of modern dance. But another figure was also enormously important. Jose Limon not only created a technique - using momentum, weight, and the natural action of the body in ways that helped pave the way for many other kinds of dance - but he was a pioneer in other ways. He was a Mexican immigrant, a humanist in the most profound sense, and a classicist. Astonishingly, his company is celebrating its 70th anniversary, and is visiting the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, bringing Limon's masterpiece, "The Moor's Pavane," a quartet that re-creates Shakespeare's "Othello." The endurance of this troupe, and Limon's deep sympathy for and understanding of what it means to be human, are inspiring. (You can get more insight into Jose Limon at a pre-show discussion with the company's director and Daniel Lewis, a former member of Limon's troupe and the founding dean of dance at New World School of the Arts.)
Pre-show talk at 6:30, performance at 8 p.m. at SMDCAC, 10950 SW 211 St., Cutler Bay. Tickets are $25 to $45, or $10 for 12 and under, at smdcac.org or 786-573-5300. Culture Shock tickets for only (!!) $5 for 13 to 22 year olds and one guest are available at Culture Shock Miami until midnight Friday.
Finally, there were tears and cheers when beloved Miami City Ballet couple Jennifer Kronenberg (of Queens) and Carlos Guerra (of Cuba) took their last bows with the company last spring. Now they're back to debut their own troupe, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, this Sunday at Miami-Dade County Auditorium. You can celebrate their cross-cultural love story, or their determination to make art. See my story here and in Thursday's Tropical Life.