'BrazzDance' Director Augusto Soledade Draws Inspiration From Miami Scene

Feb 6, 2013

MIXED ROOTS: 'Cordel,' one of Augusto Soledade's repertory works, take cues from hiphop, tango and Brazilian narrative poetry.
Credit Mitchell Zachs

Since his arrival in 2004, Brazilian native Augusto Soledade has been trailblazing and opening paths for dance in Miami at an unprecedented pace and efficacy. 

Like his signature ASIWAJU educational project (asiwaju is the Yoruban term for “he who opens the path”), Soledade is committed to creating new spaces and platforms for dance and ensuring that Miami becomes a global and sustainable player of the genre.

Ever inspired by our tropical landscape, Soledade takes cues from the Magic City. “Miami's landscape has served as a main source of inspiration and direction for my artistic interests," he said. "It is the cosmopolitan nature of Miami that has helped me connect to other world cultures, and to the sense that despite geographical separations, our shared humanities serve as the footprint for cultural experiences that can be appreciated by many at a global scope.

"More specifically, I feel that it was the fact that I now live in Miami, and my exposure to other South American cultures, that has sparked my interest in tango, and lead me to make connections to the level of negotiation of personal space found in both tango and capoeira."

These influences are seen in his repertory works: “Cordel,” a work inspired by Argentine tango, American hip hop and Brazilian cordel literature; and “Kayala," based on the Brazilian folktale “How Night Came from the Sea.”

“I believe literature can be a great source of inspiration," Soledade says, "but it is important to understand how to translate literature into dance."

Soledade translates seamlessly with his signature contemporary Afro-Brazilian movement language. His phrases are an endless supply of perfectly executed rhythmic surprise. He describes his work as “a distinct contemporary dance style that considers various cultures.” Soledade plays with theme and metaphor but always remains true to the grounded precision of African diaspora dance. Both “Cordel” and “Kayala” speak to the universality that dance offers. “Both tango and hip hop have distinct cultural elements, however, they share an origin in hardship,” he adds. “The level of marginalization and social tensions found in Brazilian culture is shared within the history of tango and hip hop."

Soledade is making sure that dance in Miami is no longer a marginalized pursuit.

He just completed a rebranding and naming of the company as well as national auditions bringing top-tier dancers from both Los Angeles and New York City.

You will see the fruits of these changes Feb. 8 and 9 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for the premiere of “Augusto Soledade Brazzdance: Cordel and Kayala."

“They are very distinct works that showcase the range of artistic experiences that our signature style can promote," says Soledqde. " The evening will be entertaining, poetic and moving, but it will also provide an opportunity for the audience to find unprecedented connections to the work."

These performances at the Arsht kickoff a new phase of Soledade’s Brazzdance incorporating his 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Award for the Miami Dance Mecca, a company project that seeks to place Miami on the global map for dance.

Soledade says that “Miami Dance Mecca is a project that we believe can help us strengthen the notion of Miami as a viable, vibrant and diverse emerging center for dance in the country, thus increasing the rate of local professional dancers who will remain in Miami to pursue a dance career, and attracting out-of-town dancers into our community."

“Augusto Soledade Brazzdance: Cordel and Kayala” takes place on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. 

Tiffany Hanan Maderas writes for artburstmiami.com