Enabling artists to make new work has always been at the heart of Miami Light Project’s mission. But in recent months, a cascade of artists and projects fostered by Miami Light Project have received major grants and recognition, the latest result of an incredibly fertile period in which MLP has initiated seven new evening-length works by Miami-based artists, with four National Performance Network commissions, and five projects supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Dance theater maker and cultural transformer Pioneer Winter seems to live by the words ‘why not?’ Why not make pieces with people with all different kinds of bodies, experiences, identities, beauty, power? A woman in a wheelchair, a senior citizen gogo dancer, a drag queen, a trans woman, a 13-year-old boy? Why not dance on film? In a bathroom stall?
Why not make dance that intersects with life?
As we retreat into the digital while the natural world burns and floods, Roxana Barba offers a multi-media invocation of the ancestral Andean cosmovision of her native Peru. In Amaru in Heaven (the pre-Columbian serpent deity subverting Catholic prayer), Barba – who’s been working with archeologists and historians in Miami and Lima – imagines a mythic universe where past, present and future come together.
Who wouldn’t like to be a superhero, especially these days? Miami-bred, Cuban-rooted singer/songwriter/musician Sol Ruiz’s superpower is music. Which she unleashes in Positive Vibration Nation, a “multimedia music theater rock guaguanco opera.” Whew.
Spiritual revival and the raw power of the dancing community, whether in a rave, a street dance cypher, or church, ignite Shamar Watt’s Dawning of the Suns. A fiercely mesmerizing performer, Watt has enthralled Miami audiences in Nora Chipaumire’s portrait of myself as my father (for which he won a Bessie award) at The Light Box in 2016, and earlier this month in Pioneer Winter’s Birds of Paradise. For his Here & Now piece, he draws on a personal, spiritual sense of mission.
Classmates, dance mates, roommates and best friends Kayla Castellon and Patricia Rose Suarez celebrate friendship, youth, play and transformation in the actually quite open Closed Rehearsal.
Theater artist José Manuel Dominguez knows about being different – as an immigrant, and as someone who can’t see. But Watch Out, Joe! explores other people’s anxiety at dealing with those who are different. “There’s a moment when I say ‘blind’ and I’m not talking about me,” Dominguez says. “I’m talking about you.”
Dance and filmmaker/human rocket Enrique Villacreses takes a sci fi flight in GoldenSociety, following his wild imagination and his exhilarating, double-take inducing, hiphop-gaga-modern movement style to create a surreal vision of futuristic people in a subterranean world.
Dorothy Hindman’s Here & Now piece challenges the audience, her musicians, and herself. An acclaimed new music composer and professor at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, she had to venture into foreign theatrical territory – lighting, video, directing. That’s the turf for Here & Now’s younger artists; and of Hindman’s sister Christine Dolen, the doyenne of Miami theater critics, and their father, an accomplished actor.
Activism is in Brittany Williams’ blood. So is street dance. So is the legacy of her Bahamian ancestors and the struggle of Black people in Florida. She brings them to moving life in Swamp Body – Recollections of the Salt Water Railroad: embodied ritual, celebration, protest, struggle.