On Sunday afternoon, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens will provide a lush backdrop to a selection of new works, choreographed and performed by dancers from Miami City Ballet.
The pop-up performance is part of a series, now called “To Florida, With Love,” whose goal is to bring outdoor ballet to neighborhoods and connect with South Florida’s diverse communities. .
Last year, in response to the pandemic and as a gift to the community, MCB premiered the pop-up series at several iconic locations in and around Miami. Originally titled “To Miami, With Love,” the performances were a way to offer healing power through art, company officials said.
This year, the company is expanding the program and geography to include new venues in the three counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, with 10 choreographers presenting 11 new works. The works vary by theme, from site-specific inspirations to personal, social and cultural issues.
On Sunday, the public will be treated to two programs, at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., with a work, “Meiyo No Tame”, serving as the centerpiece for both. The first program will feature four works, while five will be presented in the second.
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Created by choreographer Ariel Rose and designed specifically for Japanese gardens, “Meiyo No Tame” – translated as “we fight for honor” – is a new work that touches on the legacy of Onna-bugeisha (a term for women warriors in pre-modern Japan) and pays tribute to Nakana Tekeko, warrior and women’s rights leader.
This pas de deux is danced by Anna Grunewald and Satoki Habuchi with the music of “The Last Samurai”, a composition that Rose has long kept in reserve. It’s evident, as Rose describes his process, how moved he is by both the music and the story. A former history major, Rose considers herself a historian and immersed herself in a lot of research before she started choreographing.
“I found a lot of interesting information about what was called the Onna-bugeisha, wives and women trained to fight. And what I found fascinating was that it was a period that was erased or minimized, that wasn’t really talked about, during the 1700s and 1800s in Japan,” Rose said. “Women fought alongside their husbands, learned to fight, learned to use weapons, and were treated as equals in battle. I think it’s such an amazing thing because I feel like the more modern idea of women in Japan was much more submissive back home.
This piece depicts a man and a woman at a time right before they fight together and what that dynamic can look like, Rose said. “It’s something that I think is not only unique, but also unheard of, these days, even with the rise of women in the military. I’m sure there are very few of those situations.”
Throughout the play, Rose uses authentic props to help tell the story: Grunewald uses a fan, while Habuchi uses a practice katana, but they swap props during the pas de deux.
Rose said he wanted the theme to be “balance” – that they were both doing the same things – “which was historically true”.
Accuracy was important to Rose with this project.
“I’m not trying to choreograph a sword dance, but even the hand positions and the poses – those kinds of details are more important to people than before. It’s better to do your own research than what you think. You can tap into historical films and it can inform your movement. Sometimes our idea of a culture is different from what it really is.
Also on the program, the work of the company’s ballet dancer Luiz Silva, who will make his debut “In Perpetuity”. Inspired by the beauty and coexistence of nature, Silva visualizes two human beings able to dance in perpetuity, adding that his work “also reflects my journey to find my voice as a black dancer in the world.”
Silva said he was inspired by his grandmother who often told him, “Whenever you understand your darkness, that’s the day you’ll be set free.”
Plus, corps de ballet member Petra Love will premiere “New Love,” a satirical play meant to put a smile on your face. The piece plays with the dynamic between three young, competitive dancers and a ballerina at the height of her career.
Artistic director Lourdes Lopez said last year’s pop-ups proved a well-deserved respite from the heartbreak of the pandemic that brought communities together for moments of joy and beauty.
“At our core, we believe that MCB belongs in the community, and we strive to make it more inclusive by opening doors and building bridges to access the art form. Additionally, watching our dancers take on new activities creative talents and supporting them in their artistic growth is incredibly rewarding and I am proud of their dedication and hard work. After all, it is the artists, dancers and choreographers who will drive the future of ballet forward,” said Lopez .
It is not common for dancers, especially ballet dancers, to have the opportunity to experiment with choreography while performing with a company.
Rose was one of the lucky ones, being offered choreographic opportunities at an early age and developing her voice as a choreographer alongside her continued education and work as a dancer. Giving others a chance to express their creative vision, with some guidance, is one area dance organizations can work on, he said.
“It (the pop-ups) gave a great opportunity for people to explore that side of themselves, if they haven’t choreographed it yet, and I believe some people haven’t. So , that’s exciting.
If you are going to
What: “To Florida, With Love” by Miami City Ballet
When: 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach. The 2 p.m. performance is followed by a Q&A with choreographer Ariel Rose and the dancers who created a special work for Morikami.
Cost: Free, with paid museum admission (adults, $15; 65 and over, $13; students with ID, $11; children 6-17, children 5 and under, free)
For more information: visit miamicityballet.org/popups