“Under the Olive Tree (Excerpts),” “Echoe,” “Á Morgun,” “Space Between Words,” “Fractales”
Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC), Lab Theatre
Cutler Bay, Florida
Saturday April 21st, 3:30pm
by Sean Erwin
copyright © 2018 by Sean Erwin
In the Fall of 2016, within months after announcing their retirement from Miami City Ballet, principal dancers Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra formed Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami bringing together Cuban classically trained dancers and former Miami City Ballet dancers versed in the Balanchine tradition. Since then DDTM has shaken up the South Florida dance scene. Last weekend’s program – “An Intimate Evening of Ballet: Spotlight on Contemporary Female Choreographers” - proved another success for this young company which, in its first eighteen months, has received a 2017 Knight Challenge Grant and now looks toward its debut at New York’s Joyce Theater on June 26th and 29th followed right after by their first appearance at the storied Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
"Under the Olive Tree" by Tara Lee (c) Simon Soong, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
Atlanta choreographer, Tara Lee’s “Under the Olive Tree” opened the afternoon performance to the sounds of wind and purple lighting. Josue Justiz was stunning during Max Richter’s, “Fragment.” Simple turns and hops accompanied upper arms that expanded and contracted with the phrasing of the solo violin. Also impressive was Chloe Freytag who brought high energy and playfulness to the piece, in one sequence maxing out Trisha Carter’s forward kick by forcing it upward with a kick of her own.
DDTM artistic directors, Kronenberg and Guerra performed next in “Echoe,” a choreography by Dance Now! Miami artistic director, Hannah Baumgartner. With “Echoe” the program shifted from explosive to nuanced and contained. Kronenberg and Guerra performed sequences marked by sweeping turns that finished with careful, precise lifts. Certain repeated gestures communicated vulnerability as when Guerra supported Kronenberg with one hand on her neck as she fully arched backwards. This choreography was the exact opposite of the grueling and tempestuous pas de deux by Ronald Sovkovik, “Trasparente” the two performed at SMDCAC last summer.
Next up was the company premiere of Fort Lauderdale choreographer, Emily Tedesco’s, “Á Morgun” danced by Trisha Carter, Selah Oliver and Eduardo Pi Iglesias. In an artist-to-audience talk before the piece Tedesco explained that the dance was about setting and defying boundaries. Oliver was lovely throughout playing with contrasts, at one moment her movements relaxed, almost languid, suddenly springing into kicks and lunges. She also clearly trusted Iglesias’ support, her upper body unhurriedly completing extensions through the arms and wrists during lifts.
Carter took advantage of Iglesias’s support as well, but their pas de deux was also notable for the theatricality she brought to it. Carter’s expressions and the play of her eyes embodied Tedesco’s idea of setting and testing boundaries between people.
Next up was the afternoon’s most powerful performance – “Space Between Words” – a ballet originally developed by Donna Murray for Ballet Palm Beach. Claudia Lezcano and Fabian Morales were exceptional. The piece began as a game of resistance between the petite Lezcano who fought the support offered by the visibly more powerful Morales, who physically dwarfed her. In previous performances of this piece the two struggled to keep the energy unfolding from start to finish. Saturday’s audience saw a completely perfected pas de deux. At one point Morales suspended Lezcano vertically fully extended over his head held only by the back of her neck and knee with Lezcano appearing entirely at ease. The emphasis the Cuban classical tradition places on strong partnering was a constant during all the afternoon’s performances but in “Space Between Words” it was a central feature of the choreography with Lezcano in the air during most of the piece.
Sarasota choreographer, Tania Vergara’s world premiere of “Fractales” closed the afternoon.The choreography plays with the kind of group behavior seen in flocks of birds and schools of fish when for no clear reason a single individual breaks off from the group and performs movements that run counter to it. However because “Fractales” is built around a group-individual axis this dance would have had even more impact in a larger space than the SMDCAC’s Lab Theatre allowed.
The first movement included dancers Gabriela Mesa, Yaima Mendez, Mayrel Martinez, and Claudia Lezcano, and there were many interesting sequences, especially with the emphasis on the women supporting and lifting one another. Still some missed holds and hesitancy among the four dancers challenged the performance.
The second movement danced by Stephan Fons, Kevin Henández, Fabian Morales, Nataneal Leal, and Yanis Eric Pikeiris featured the athleticism of the men. Yanis Eric Pikeiris seemed in the air as much as Lezcano had been in “Space Between Words” as he was lifted among the dancers, even executing a full flip at one point. With finely executed turns and great timing, the men made a strong finish to the afternoon program.
"Space Between Words" by Donna Murray, (c) Simon Soong, DDTM dancers Claudia Lezcano & Fabian Morales
"Fractales" by Tania Vergara, (c) Simon Soong, DDTM dancers Claudia Lezcano, Chloe Freytag, Diana Figueroa