In 2013, Hattie Mae Williams, a contemporary dance choreographer, won a grant from the Knight Foundation’s Arts Challenge.
Now, the New World School of the Arts graduate is having her film debut with “Culture Concrete,” premiering at The LAB Miami in Wynwood this Saturday, Nov. 15.
It’s set within the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key. Since the stadium's abandonment in 1992, it has become a hub for graffiti artists, both local and international.
Williams studied dance through a program at Fordham University in New York. Below, read an edited version of an interview with her, in which she talks about the inspiration for the film.
"Culture Concrete" premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St., Miami. Purchase tickets here.
Your company is called the Tattooed Ballerinas, and your work is often described as “guerrilla dance.” What does that mean?
Well, originally, our company started in 2003 in New York performing without permission in sites like supermarkets, Laundromats, parks, tennis courts. I wanted to challenge the whole idea of traditional spaces of performing. There’s structures in public… in society that I feel like would be great to have a performance [in]. So this dance film is set at Miami Marine Stadium.
Why did you want to make a film there?
First, because it’s been abandoned for 20 years. The size of it was just enormous and fantastic. Also, I was really drawn to the fact that this one particular organization, Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium, along with local graffiti artists, have kind of rebirthed this space. So I was really intrigued, and I wanted to be part of that moment of the community actually really getting together and trying to bring this space back into the… use for the community.
What’s going to be the music for the film?
So this wonderful artist I’m working with -- his name is Datamouth -- he’s taking natural soundscapes from the Marine Stadium, like the bay. He’s taking the sounds of spray cans.
And the spray cans to reflect the graffiti that covers so much of the Marine Stadium?
Tell me about the title of the film.
“Culture Concrete” is what we’re calling the film. In the 1960s, there was this whole movement in Miami of really using concrete. Like if you look at the Miami Beach bandshell stuff, also some of the Miami Dade [College] campuses, all structures are like heavy, heavy concrete. So I thought that was really interesting. Also, “Culture Concrete,” to me, resonates with the culture -- the graffiti culture -- that’s happening here in Miami. ... Also, I think the culture that’s changing here in Miami. I think people are becoming more conscious and artists are being more aware of how important it is to take back some spaces and to reclaim and to do things more in an artful way.
So why are you doing this as a film as opposed to a live performance?
As I develop as an artist, I’m getting more interested in film. ... Not to mention that the stadium is closed, it is abandoned. It [would be] trespassing. Even though it is an option to have a small audience come for several different shows, it’s a huge liability, first and foremost.
It's not set up for an audience.
It’s not set up for an audience -- yet. Hopefully... they get the funds and they reopen it, and it will be set up for an audience, you know? But in this particular project, I really wanted to document it, and I really wanted to document a time and place in Miami. And, for me, film is the best way to do that.
Click below to watch a teaser of "Culture Concrete" on Vimeo.