They just wanna dance, dance, dance
By Sam Adams
Marjorie Neset is a self-described "obsessive traveler and geographer." In 2008, a research grant landed her in Maputo, Mozambique, to investigate the local dance scene. There she connected with Panaibra Gabriel Canda—one of the country's foremost dance figures. A few weekends ago, Neset found herself on an 800-mile road trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, delivering Canda and his guitarist, Jorge Domingos, to the 11th annual installation of Global DanceFest.
Neset, the volunteer artistic director at NewArt New Mexico and executive director of VSA North Fourth Art Center, is the driving force behind the event. She describes it as rooted "firmly in contemporary dance and especially contemporary international dance." Her own roots in Albuquerque's performing arts scene extend back to the ’70s, when she helped coordinate dance and theater projects at the KiMo. Before founding Global DanceFest through the KiMo and nonprofit NewArt New Mexico in 2001, she took a 10-year hiatus from Albuquerque to travel the world and produce theater in San Francisco. Upon returning to the KiMo she used her worldly travels—and newfound friends—as inspiration for the inaugural festival. "We learn—especially when you're isolated out here in the desert—what we know about other cultures and countries through the arts," Neset says.
Beginning March 11, the three-week event will host a different internationally acclaimed company each weekend. Local enthusiasts will notice some familiar names—dancers and choreographers returning from locales such as Mozambique, New York and Brazil to bring their funk and flair back to the Duke City.
Neset describes Petronio's act as "very athletic, very high energy," adding that the 10 performers in Petronio's act are among "the most skilled and highly trained dancers you can imagine."
This year's festival kicks off with Time and Spaces: The Marrabenta Solos, a politically inspired work by Canda, the Mozambican choreographer. The piece focuses on the "movement, writing and rhythmic forces inherent in the marrabenta," a sensual urban music that arose in times of colonial unrest, as well as Canda's interpretive reactions to his continent's sociopolitical climate. Canda choreographed a piece for Global DanceFest 2009, but Time and Spaces will be his first solo performance in Albuquerque. He will be accompanied by Domingos, who has been playing his own brand of marrabenta-rock since the ’80s.
Week two reunites New York's prestigious Stephen Petronio Company with Global DanceFest, now for the fourth time. Petronio's piece I Drink the Air Before Me engages his signature style of emphasizing technique and energy over more narrative-driven movement. Neset describes Petronio's act as "very athletic, very high energy," adding that the 10 performers in Petronio's act are among "the most skilled and highly trained dancers you can imagine."
Wrapping up the festival is the Latina Dance Theater Project's El Sueño de la Razón / Slumber of Reason. The multimedia performance is an updated incarnation of Francisco de Goya's 18th Century "capricho." Or as the company describes it, the piece is a way to "explore superstitions and social abuses affecting our modern world, from the darkest to the most absurdly humorist." LDTP is comprised of members from Mexico, Brazil and Los Angeles, along with Albuquerque’s own Licia Perea. This performance is directed by Vancouver's Tim Perez.
Susanna Kearny, marketing director for VSA, raves about the global recognition and momentum the festival has gained since its 2001 inception. "It's put New Mexico on the map in the contemporary dance world," she says.
Schedule of Events
Panaibra Gabriel Canda (Mozambique)
Time and Spaces: The Marrabenta Solos
N4th Theater (4904 Fourth Street NW)
March 11 and 12, 8 p.m.
Stephen Petronio Company (New York City)
I Drink the Air Before Me
National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW)
March 18 and 19, 8 p.m.
Latina Dance Theater Project (Los Angeles / Mexico / Brazil)
El Sueño de la Razón / Slumber of Reason
March 25 and 26, 8 p.m.
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