South Florida’s Dance Companies Reflect the Diverse Tapestry of Our Culture

South Florida’s Dance Companies Reflect the Diverse Tapestry of Our Culture

Gli Altri / Others - Photo Credit: Simon Soong

Dance has been an intrinsic part of human culture dating back more than 10,000 years, opening a doorway for us to communicate with one another and to introduce us to various cultures without a spoken word. As new expressions through dance have emerged and evolved, each company or each performance has its own unique way of storytelling and expression, providing a bridge connecting us to various cultures worldwide. 

As the third largest metropolitan melting pot in the nation, Miami is uniquely poised to showcase an incredibly broad range of opportunities to experience the diverse tapestry of Latin, Caribbean, South Asian, Afro-American and European-inspired dance. We are fortunate to have such a wide variety of options that can only serve to help us to develop a stronger sense of cultural awareness and a deeper understanding and appreciation of our cultural diversity.

Cameron Basden, co-founder and artistic director of Miami Dance Hub, a multi-faceted resource that offers one-stop shopping for dance in South Florida, also produces "Miami Dances," the annual celebration of multi-genre, multi-cultural dance. 

“Miami Dances is a celebratory culmination of the South Florida dance season, showcasing many of the dynamic dance organizations and talented artists we are fortunate to have in our community,” commented Basden. “The event also provides an opportunity for South Florida audiences to be introduced to and to experience the wide variety of exciting dance genres that exist in the region.” 

The two-day repertoire of performances features some of South Florida’s most highly regarded professional dance companies and talent, all presented at a single venue. Over the course of the event, Miami Dances presents two evenings of unique performances representative of various genres and cultures, followed by panel discussions with talent after the performances. There is also the opportunity to engage in masterclasses with sought after instructors.

Miami Dances shines the spotlight on local dance companies whose repertoire is representative of the various styles and genres that have evolved throughout the storied history of dance.

Chachi Perez and Carne Viva Dance Theatre’s original choreography “Dame La Receta!” exemplifies Afro-Cuban and Caribbean dance. Characterized by syncopated footwork, dynamic body movements, and the use of percussion instruments such as the conga drums and even pots and pans, provide a pulsating rhythm that drives the highly expressive dance. This genre lies in the cultural traditions brought to the islands by African slaves during the Colonial period, and blended with Spanish and Indigenous influences.   

With a rich history going back to the 15th Century, Ballet technique and repertoire has undergone significant evolution through the years. Classical Ballet emphasizes fluid movements, high extensions, pointe work, elaborate costumes and staging. During the Romantic era, choreographers focused on dramatic storylines that often contained mystical elements. In contrast to Classical Ballet’s “stiff, pancake-style tutus”, softer bell-shaped skirts became the norm.  

Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami L-R: Maikel Hernandez, Miranda Montes de Oca & Pedro Aldana  Photo Credit: Simon Soong

Neoclassical and Contemporary Ballet came about in the 20th century and incorporated elements of traditional ballet. Choreographer George Balanchine revolutionized ballet with Neoclassical abstract styles and storylines, with minimalistic sets and costumes, while Contemporary Ballet added modern techniques of jazz and other dance forms.

Arts Ballet Theater of Florida produces full seasons of Classical, Neoclassical and Contemporary ballet. Their performance of Le Spectre de la Rose is an example of romantic ballet, recounting the tale of a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a souvenir rose from her first ball. 

Dancers Remina Tanaka and Kirsty Walker - Photo Credit @Patriciasphotography 

Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, directed by Miami City Ballet principal dancers Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg, has received rousing critical acclaim as a cutting edge, yet classically based, contemporary ballet company. 

Ballet Vero Beach is the only professional ballet company in their region, and represent the first professional ballet company located in Vero Beach. They bring together the classical and contemporary dance form and have gained a reputation for innovative and dynamic programming.

There are also several young, talented artists, including Emily Ricca, a freelance Ballerina who often performs with Ballet Etoile and Cuban Classical Ballet. She also founded Romance Project, an International Educational program. Miami City Ballet’s Durante Verzola is a young choreographer to watch. His ballet vocabulary falls “on the classical side of neo-classical” according to a review by Theater Jones. Junior Domingos explores illusion in relation to reality and Reshma Anwar is inspired by space affected by the confines of time. 

Contemporary and Modern dance companies in South Florida epitomize a wide range of interpretations and themes of the genre. 

Karen Peterson and Dancers, Florida’s only full-time, physically integrated dance company, features choreography performed by dancers with and without disabilities. 

Pioneer Winter Collective focuses on intergenerational and physically integrated dance rooted in social practice and community, celebrating queerness, humanity, and vulnerability. 

Dance NOW! Miami’s interpretive, artistic work is based on their two-decade long investigation and fusion of ballet, modern and jazz dance styles. 

Aeon De La Cruz’ and Nicole Pedraza’s visceral approach to dissecting dance and cultural adversities experiments with ballet, and motion-sensing technology. 

Syncopate Collective is a collaborative group of diverse multidisciplinary artists that aims to provide a safe, supportive, and experimental environment for professional dance artists to share their creations with the community. 

Randolf Ward (RTW Dance), a trained classical Ballerino with movements embedded in the African Diaspora, presents visceral dance performances by way of unconventional ideas of creative expression that challenge the audience's perception of marginalized communities, the world, and their own humanity.

Flamenco was inspired by the Andalusian gypsy culture. This passionate and expressive dance with its intricate footwork, hand gestures and dramatic movements incorporates singing, guitar music and hand clapping. Clarita Filgueiras, a renowned Flamenco dancer, has inherited a deep-rooted connection to the art from her family. She is highly regarded in the unique art form of Bata de Cola, “long train dress”, and stands as a beacon of Flamenco excellence, bridging cultures, preserving tradition and propelling the art form forward. Ballet Flamenco La Rosa is dedicated to Flamenco as an ever-evolving art form, and their continuing quest to create new artistic forms is furthered by intricate collaborative works. This ground breaking approach traces the connection between Flamenco and other styles of dance and music, exploring the common elements and developing new dance forms. Comprised of dancers and musicians from Spain, Latin America and the U.S., the company offers a wide range of pure flamenco programs, as well as cutting-edge fusion works, collaborations and dramatic Flamenco Ballets.

Ballet Flamenco La Rosa (L to R) Maria Mercedes Perez, Milagros Ventura and Mayelu Perez - Photo Credit: Jenny Abreu

There are hundreds of vibrant genres and cultural dances to discover. Each year Miami Dances, hosted by Miami Dance Hub, opens the parameters to experience the multiple genres of exciting dance that exist in South Florida and performed by a variety of South Florida dance organizations. Miami Dances goal is to inspire and entertain the present generation, and ignite future generations with a love of dance.

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