When a new Miami-based ballet company makes its world premiere this weekend, one featured ballet will have the dancers joined on stage by a live band playing some of Cuba’s most beloved boleros and folk songs.
The entire program is titled “Between Havana and Heaven.” It's just one of the ways Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will try to distinguish itself from other ballet companies around the country – perhaps the world.
The company was founded by former Miami City Ballet principal dancers (and husband and wife) Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra. In the following interview, Kronenberg talks to WLRN about what it’s like to go from dancer to director; the strengths of Cuba-born dancers; the importance of keeping the arts affordable; and the inspirational power of a car stereo.
WLRN: Many of your new company’s dancers were formerly with the National Ballet of Cuba. What’s the one quality Cuban dancers have that stands apart?
JK: Cuban dancers are so well trained. Their technique is impeccable. They really have this very solid base and that makes them very versatile. Their training is a bit slower as far as musicality and attack goes than what we're used to here in the States. But they do adapt very quickly because they have that strong base. And they're extremely charismatic.
WLRN: What kind of transition has it been from dancing for a major company to running a brand new one?
JK It's been incredible. My husband and I are dancing one of the ballets on the program, so it's not like we made such a sharp transition. We are trying to do this gradually as best we can. But to be on the other side and see the dancers and feel pride in the environment that you are providing for them -- the opportunity that you're providing for them to grow -- is incredibly rewarding.
WLRN: In introducing dimension's Dance Theater you and your husband have stressed that enjoying art forms like ballet and opera is becoming increasingly unaffordable for a typical American family. So how are you going to solve that and still keep your company's head above water?
JK: Really we are so adamant about trying to keep ticket prices low enough that the typical family could afford -- not just to go out on a date -- but maybe to bring their children as well. To do that and then still be able to make payroll at the end of the day and cover production costs is no small feat. That's where we so heavily rely on support from our donors, from the public. But in order for that to happen, I feel it's our responsibility to prove to them that we are worth supporting – that this is something that can last for the long run.
WLRN: Why did you name the company “Dimensions”?
JK: One day we were stopped at a red light and my husband very randomly turned to me and said, “What about “Dimensions”? And I said, “Wow, what a great vocabulary word! Where did you come up with that?” And he pointed to the car stereo -- the brand was Dimensions. And I said, “That's it.” Because all that we've been talking about was how we wanted to be multi-faceted in our collaborative efforts -- such as incorporating these musicians onstage with us. Hopefully, we'll get to incorporate some visual artists, as well. We just want this to be a very multi-dimensional endeavor so that it becomes an experience for the audience -- rather than just a show.
If You Go:
Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
Inaugural Performance: "Between Havana & Heaven"
Sunday, Nov. 20, 5 pm
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler Street
For more info, visit: dimensionsdancemia.com