Cordel Brought Into Being
With NPN Funds

By Augusto Soledade

In the NPN Creation Fund and Forth Fund work Cordel, Miami-based, Brazilian choreographer Augusto Soledade drew upon the historical and social contexts of the Argentine Tango, American Hip-hop and Brazilian Cordel to create an abstract contemporary dance that was toured to Commissioner sites South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, Florida Dance Association (Tampa Bay, FL) and Alabama Dance Council (Birmingham, AL).

Cordel, an abstract contemporary dance piece, elicits a core discussion on marginalization and social tensions around the globe, and the exploration of poetic structures in order to create dance poetics. Cordel, a 48-minute piece  for four dancers with music by Daniel Bernard Roumain, utilizes local participation of 14 audience members, one guest spoken word artist and one hip-hop dance artist as part of the choreographic structure.

Initially conceived in 2009, Cordel went through various stages of research and workshops, however, it wasn’t until I received the Creation Fund award in July 2011 that I was finally able to immerse myself in the process of creating the work during an extended residency at South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC). The residency was part of the commitment of co-commissioner Eric Fliss, Director of SMDCAC, to fully support the production of this new work. My company Brazz Dance Theater was given a brand new facility, the Lab Theater at SMDCAC, as the site to develop Cordel, where rehearsals were held five days a week for three months. The work premiered at SMDCAC Lab Theater, with five additional sold out performances at the SMDCAC Lab Theater. Additional performances of the work were featured at the 2012 Alabama Dance Festival (Creation Fund co-commisioner) in Birmingham, AL. A matinee performance of Cordel served over one thousand Birmingham elementary and middle school kids who attended the show, and more that four hundred festival participants attended the evening performance.

The main objective of Cordel is to present a contemporary dance that explores specific cultural roots of various societies in order to find common threads among various groups of people despite their geographical separation. Cordel also showcases my vision and artistic perspective as a Brazilian-born choreographer based in South Florida.

Cordel was co-commissioned by Bill Doolin, Florida Dance Association; Eric Fliss, South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center; Rosemary Johnson, Alabama Dance Council; and NPN through the Creation Fund grant. Bill Doolin was the first presenter to express interest in the project; Rosemary Johnson came as the second presenter and was not only interested in commissioning the work, but was also willing to partner with Bill Doolin to pursue the Creation Fund grant. Conversations with Eric Fliss and involvement of the SMDCAC were a result of the SMDCAC Grand Opening programming, and the networking efforts of both Bill Doolin and Rosemary Johnson, who knew Mr. Fliss well. Cordel inaugurated the Lab Theater at the SMDCAC.

The impact of the NPN Creation Fund award, not just through the cash, but also through the required presenter partnership has had an unprecedented impact on my career at this point. It has allowed me to hire dancers full time for the first time for an entire season, to have access to a state-of-the-art dance studio, and to have the many hours per day to comfortably create work. In addition, it has given Brazz Dance Theater the opportunity to tour, and potentially to increase our touring activity through networking possibilities with other NPN partners. I have been diligently pursuing such opportunities for the past five years.

Cordel will be featured at the 2012 Florida Dance Festival on June 16 in Tampa, FL. Thanks in part to the NPN Forth Fund, Brazz Dance Theater rehearsal schedule will continue Mondays through Fridays from May to June. Rehearsals are essential in getting the cast ready to perform the work.  The NPN Forth Fund allows Brazz Dance Theater to hire three members of the original cast and one new cast member. The rehearsals will serve as an opportunity to revise and address the strengths and weakness, as well as to incorporate the comments and feedback collected after the previous performances of the work. The Forth Fund will also make it possible for Bill Doolin to have the company in residence for the entire Florida Dance Festival, June 11 to 23. I am looking forward to the experience and sharing how the Forth Fund ultimately impacted my work.

The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Forth Fund is made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Andrew Mellon Foundation

May 2012

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