Dance theater has been an art form in Asia for 1,000 years, in Europe for more than 100 years, and in Latin America for 50. In the United States, it has evolved as a specific genre over the past few decades with popular companies such as Alvin Ailey and more experimental artists like Meredith Monk at the forefront. Miami-based Akropolis, choreographed by Brazilian-born Giovanni Luquini, has carved out a niche as the only dance theater company in South Florida.
Luquini is known for creating a rich mix of theater and dance that offers the physicality of dance along with the substance of narrative and character. The company's co-director, Elizabeth Doud, explains: "Aesthetically, Giovanni is not interested in the virtuosity of movement, such as a perfect arabesque, but rather the poetry of a moment -- gestures, glances, street attitudes, indifference, and rage." This troupe, including actors, dancers, singers, and writers, fuses dance and theater while trying to avoid the pitfalls of both genres. As Doud puts it: "Every time we sit down to conceive something, we ask ourselves, how do we make it as absurd as real life but still keep it real? How do we not fall into the trap of playing into concepts of the dramatic that are overused?"
When Akropolis performs in Hollywood this weekend, the show will feature three selections from the company's repertoire. It begins with Slices 1, 3, & 7, a slightly disturbing duet/encounter using contemporary language, humor, and an urban setting to play out questions of power and desire. The piece distills Luquini's long-time fascination with the urban in his choreography, physically striking a balance between urbanized movements and dance prowess.
The second piece, Persona, one of the company's most surreal works, presents three simultaneous solos in which the performers cannot have any physical interaction. An excerpt from Xango com Sapatos, voted as best performance last year by the Miami Herald and the Miami Sun Post, is the final piece, closing the circle on this compilation of urban thrillers.
Ironically, crossing the county line can be more difficult than touring nationally or internationally. Although Akropolis has performed outside of the country, this is the first time it will perform in Broward County. The troupe is energized by the prospect of sharing this innovative work with its neighbors, Doud says. "The company is completely representative of the cultural fabric of South Florida. We are from San Paolo, Buenos Aires, and Havana as well as major U.S. cities like New York and Seattle. All of these experiences connect and merge in South Florida and in our work."