On Saturday, I attended POEMAS, a dance performance presented by The Latin Ballet of Virginia and the Poe Museum in Richmond. Each piece used the inspiration of the poetry of Poe, Neruda, Lorca, or Storni. I wasn’t sure how these artists were going to fit together. Poetry from Chile, Spain, and Argentina and the United States? Where in the world were they going with this? Yet, I was excited about finding out. Also, I was excited that it was going to be held at the Poe Museum's Enchanted Garden but alas the weather turned cold so it was moved to the Gottwald Playhouse at Richmond Center Stage. I have to admit that since the last time I froze during Poe’s birthday bash, I was more than alright with the change in venues.
Let’s start by saying that I know very little about dance so I’m not even going to try to label the styles. Some of it looked contemporary, some African inspired, some flamenco, and “The Bullfighter” included a tango. What I can say is that without a doubt, the choreography communicated beyond languages. The dance along with a few props set a tone for each piece. Even when one poem was spoken in Spanish only, a language I cannot speak, it was interpreted through visual means. Did I understand the depth of the poem without words? As a lit professor, I must say that that wasn’t possible; but, what it did do was inspire me to go home and find translations of these works.
|program from performance|
|program from performance|
Each piece seemed to build the momentum. Alfonsina Storni’s “Alfonsina and the Ocean” was breathtaking. Pablo Neruda’s lines from Poema 15 are haunting, “I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent, and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.”
Federico Garcia Lorca’s “The Bullfighter” was so visually stunning with dancer Roberto Whitaker (who also embodies The Raven beautifully) dancing as the bull. Is this guy really a dancer in Richmond, VA? Seriously! He was so talented. I believed he was a bull just as much as I believed he was a raven. Another talent was the bullfighter, Antonio Hidalgo Paz, who also choreographed this part of the performance.
I have to applaud the talent of dancer Jamie Alison LaNeave embodied “The Death Spirit” and Ana Patricia Nuckols who was able to juxtapose creepy and beautiful with subtle movements.
While I went to see interpretations of Poe, I was introduced to the macabre through poems and the visual interpretations of the dancers who brought them to live. I left the performance thinking that I need to check out more performances by the Latin Ballet of Virginia.
I really hope that they do this performance again when the weather is a bit warmer so we could see it in the garden OR other similar poetry-interpreted performances.