From tragedy, Isadora Duncan choreographed this stunning dance. You can see it in Miami

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  • Isadora Duncan
    Isadora Duncan
    American dancer and choreographer

Imagine you could go to the theater today to enjoy a dance concert with Isadora Duncan, an artist considered the Mother of Modern Dance.

She died at age 50 in 1927 when her scarf got caught in the wheels and axle of the car she used while traveling in Nice, France.

Dance Now! Miami (DNM) offers audiences a journey back in time to see some of her works and appreciate a way of doing things when the viewer’s attention did not depend on a succession of stimuli that often suffocates today’s creative projects.

At 8 p.m. Dec. 11, the company founded and directed by Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini will present a program entitled “Stories for the Holidays,” which includes four short pieces from Duncan. The performance will be at the Miami Theater Center (MTC) in Miami Shores.

DNM wants to give its audience “the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of dance by presenting a series of short works with straightforward messages of love, passion, joy and resilience,” Salterini said. “Each piece is a small vignette, from Duncan’s angelic figures in “Ave Maria” and “Harp Etude” to the non-binary genre of Hannah’s “Die Frauen” that celebrates the feminine in each of us.”

“Lunático,” an ode to the moon, will be danced by DNM’s youngest member David Jewett. And “Three Moments in Time” will portray three couples [or maybe it’s the same couple] in three moments of their relationship from the first date to their 10th anniversary, Salterini added.

The program also includes Jon Lehrer’s “Solstice’’ and ‘‘All Shook Up,’’ Baumgarten noted.

David Harris, David Jewett and Fatima Andere in ‘Solstice,’ by Jon Lehrer. Photo by Simon Soong/Dance Now! Miami.
David Harris, David Jewett and Fatima Andere in ‘Solstice,’ by Jon Lehrer. Photo by Simon Soong/Dance Now! Miami.

“Jon Lehrer is a contemporary choreographer based in New York,” Baumgarten said. “We love his energy and sincere approach to dance and invited him to come to Miami in the fall of 2020, but COVID derailed our plans, and we were only able to bring him now. His work is very dynamic, and a lot of fun, and he fits in perfectly with the company. His style is, in a sense, very similar to Diego’s and mine.”

But Duncan’s works are the program’s highlight. Andrea Mantell-Seidel, former artistic director of the Isadora Duncan Dance Ensemble in Miami, has restaged them. In addition to “Ave Maria” and “Harp Etude,” “Varshiavianka,” and “Dubinushka,” two of Duncan’s so-called “Russian revolutionary dances,” will be presented.

“Isadora Duncan’s technique consists mainly of simple walks, jumps, and gestures. It sounds easy, but it is not,” said Allyn Ginns Ayers, who will dance the role of the mother in ‘Ava Maria’ with four other women around her. “While in recent years the trend in dance has largely been toward virtuosity, Duncan’s steps are trimmed and shed of any excess.

“Instead, we are asked to start with the ‘truth’ of the dance or character and let the emotion reveal the choreography. It is a precise way of approaching movement that has influenced my approach as a dancer even in works that have nothing to do with Duncan.”

After the death of two of her youngest children in an accident, Duncan choreographed Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” to revive her spirit and as a tribute to them. This work has two versions: a solo and a group piece for six dancers.

Anthony Velázquez, who will not dance at this concert due to an injury, said he learned a lot from working with Mantell-Seidel. “She demanded ‘emotion before movement’ and her words stayed with me.”

If you go

DNM performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at Miami Theater Center, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores. Admission is $40, but there are $25 tickets for Miami Shores residents and $15 for students with valid ID. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.dancenowmiami.org/events/program1 More information at www.dancenowmiami.org or at (305) 975-8489 or visiting info@dancenowmiami.org

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