When Lourdes López became artistic director of the Miami City Ballet in 2012, she told The New York Times she wanted to bring in young choreographers and introduce new works to the company’s repertoire. New work “forces the dancers to break free, to think differently,” she said. “It challenges audiences. I would like to see more of that.” And she is keeping her promise.
The 2014-15 season will come to a close on March 27, with the world premiere of Heatscape, a new work by Justin Peck. One of today’s most acclaimed choreographers, Peck is also known for dismantling the perception that ballet is elite and inaccessible. The 35-minute work features 17 dancers and is set to the cinematic music of Bohuslav Martinů’s imaginative Piano Concerto No. 1. But make no mistake, Heatscape is all Miami.
Inspired by the vibrant imagery of the Wynwood Walls, the ballet is a collaboration with iconic street artist Shepard Fairey, who will design the original art for the production. Principal dancers Tricia Albertson, Renan Cerdeiro, Patricia Delgado and Kleber Rebello will perform the main roles on opening night. The success of this new piece lies in taking ballet in new, unexpected directions.
Wynwood is Miami’s newest art enclave. Once dilapidated and abandoned, the area—located between Downtown Miami and the Design District— is now the creative engine of a city in constant reinvention. Over the last decade, a group of daring art collectors and gallerists planted the seed of a new, contemporary art district that would do justice to the area’s burgeoning art community. Keeping with the urban vibe of the old neighborhood, artists began to paint the walls of the warehouses, which have become, over time, galleries and shops. This sense of creative freedom has produced some of the most beautiful mural walls.
Peck and Fairey are excited at the prospect of broadening their creative scope by working together. Peck believes “dance is a meeting point of different artistic media”. On the other hand, Fairey acknowledges he is “a big fan of multi-disciplinary collaborations”, and is proud to follow some of his heroes “like Robert Rauschenberg, who worked with Merce Cunningham“.
Justin Peck’s Heatscape has already garnered considerable attention in the national art scene. It was included in the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, two months before it is scheduled to debut at the Miami City Ballet. Peck, Fairey, and López discussed the creative process, and company dancers performed excerpts from Heatscape. A great start for what could become a company classic since the Guggenheim program offers audiences insight into both the creators and performers of forthcoming works. It also previews what insiders believe to be the best dance choreography of the upcoming year.
Heatscape stays away from the classic and romantic ballets and avoids the stark minimalism of modern dance. In turn, we are introduced to classical dance that inspires and challenges our perceptions of art and movement. It bursts with color under the Miami sun and faithfully illustrates the new face of the Magic City. ■