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Miami Company Revives Flamenco-Inspired Modern Dance Piece

Larry Chidsey
Dance Now! Miami dancers Anthony Velazquez and Jenny Hegarty, performing Doris Humphrey's "Ritmo Jondo."

When composer Carlos Surinach emigrated to the United States from Spain in the early 1950s, he took with him the memories of his homeland's flamenco-style music.

He's often best remembered for his collaboration with masters of modern dance, including Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey.

Surinach's "Ritmo Jondo" -- which translates to "deep rhythm " -- was used for a dance piece widely considered one of Humphrey's masterpieces.

The ballet was created for the New York-based Jose Limon company in 1953.  But since then, it's hardly been the "Coppelia" or "Giselle" of the modern dance world. The last time it was danced in Miami, for instance, was 1989. 

But Miami's own Dance Now! company is bringing it back with the help of Daniel Lewis, founding dean of the New World School of the Arts and former Jose Limon dancer. 

In the following interview, WLRN Anchor Christine DiMattei talks with Lewis about the significance of "Ritmo Jondo," and why it was important to revive it:

The ballet tells no specific story: "Ritmo Jondo" presents us with a group of assertive males who court an equal number of women. It's been suggested that through the thrusting motions of the men and the swirling, cascading movements of the women, Humphrey was exploring mid-20th Century gender roles.

If that seems outdated, Lewis would remind us of something his mentor, Jose Limon, once told him.

"He said, 'Don't spit in the face of tradition. Remember the old girl is your mother.' And therefore I want people to see where we've come from with modern dance, so they can go forward," he says.



"Ritmo Jondo"
By Dance Now! Miami
Friday, Dec. 16, 8:30 p.m.
The Colony Theatre,
1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.
For ticket info, please visit: tinyurl.com/RitmoJondoTix.