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Arts & Culture

Dance NOW! Miami to reconstruct iconic works of Isadora Duncan

 Members of Dance NOW! Miami perform Isadora Duncan's Ave Maria while wearing white outfits
Simon Soong
Members of Dance NOW! Miami perform Isadora Duncan's "Ave Maria"

The company's "Stories for the Holidays" program will feature four short pieces by the dance pioneer.

Smack dab in the middle of December is when many dance companies mount that familiar classic starring waltzing flowers, a mouse king and a giant nutcracker-turned-handsome prince (you know the one).

But on Dec. 11, Dance NOW! Miami's holiday program will hark back to the dance pioneer who appeared on stage in flowing Grecian scarves and tunics, instead of glistening tutus.

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The evening will include a reconstruction of four short works by Isadora Duncan, the trailblazing dancer and dance teacher who came to prominence at the turn of the 20th century.

Duncan's "New System" of interpretive dance — based on free movement and the rhythms of nature — departed from the rigid formality of conventional ballet instruction and performance. Her style — dancing barefoot, with loosened hair and in Greco-Roman garb — is credited with giving birth to modern dance.

The liberated lightness that marked Duncan's dancing stood in stark contrast to a life weighed down by immense sorrow. In 1913, her two small children drowned in a freak car accident in Paris. A third child died shortly after birth. Duncan's time living and teaching in post-Revolutionary Russia left her ostracized in her native United States, where she was branded a "Bolshevik sympathizer."

The four pieces have been restaged by Andrea Mantell-Seidel, former artistic director of the Isadora Duncan Dance Ensemble in Miami.

"Even though she suffered terribly, in her dance she always affirmed light over darkness," said Mantell-Seidell. "And every dance — however tragic — there's a light. There's some kind of vision of hope. Of an angel coming."

The evening will also include a piece titled "Solstice," by guest choreographer Jon Lehrer, as well as pieces by Dance NOW! Miami founders and directors Diego Salterini and Hannah Baumgarten. 



Dance NOW! Miami
Program I: Stories for the Holidays, featuring the work of Isadora Duncan

  • Saturday, Dec. 11
  • 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Miami Theater Center
  • 9806 NE 2nd Ave.
  • Miami Shores, FL
Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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