Miriam is a choreographer and artistic director. She gained her first choreographic experience in Spain at the age of 14. She trained as a dancer in Spain, UK and Argentina, studying classical Spanish dance, Flamenco, Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Jazz, Street Dance, African, Argentinean Tango and other Latin Dances, as well as Acting and Stage Fighting. As a chorographer she can now feed from her broad range of skills, working in various contexts and productions; Opera, Music Videos, Artist Movement coaching, Theatre plays and Dance Companies. She also have accomplished a BA Hons Performing Arts and some MA Choreography credits at Middlesex University.
Mirium, can you highlight the poignant experiences and stages of your professional development that helped you to launch and establish your career as choreographer?
As you mentioned, my choreographic interest and opportunities developed from the age of 14. Since then, I had a desire to be a Choreographer but at first wanted to work with other Choreographers and experience various dance styles also as a dancer and performer. Unfortunately, at that time, the only available dance training in Madrid was Ballet and Spanish dances, so whenever I would see a music video with dance, a TV program like Fame, or films like Dirty Dancing and Flashdance, I would watch them repeatedly to be able to imitate their styles when creating routines for my students. I came to London to study Contemporary dance and other dance styles, Acting and Choreography, to broaden my creativity and movement vocabulary.
I started my dance studies in the UK at the Chelsea and Kensington Dance Foundation Course. Afterwards I gained a Locn and Access course Certificate in Theatre studies at Hoxton Hall, a Dance Access course at City and Islington College and a BA Hons Performing Arts at Middlesex University parallel to my training at places like Pineapple and Danceworks.
During the years that I have been in London, I have worked in numerous productions that have involved a variety of styles, often participating in the choreographic process and continuously learning from the different Choreographers I have worked with.
A couple of years ago, when I had to stop dancing due to a knee injury, I decided to focus my career on Choreography. I joined the MA Choreography course at Middlesex University encouraged by Program Leader Christopher Bannerman, whose knowledge and experience has really guided me in my Choreographic development. I discovered the opportunities that The Place offers in its annual Resolution! which gives new Choreographers a platform to showcase their work. For many UK Choreographers it has been the starting point. I believe that presenting my work Frida at Resolution! in January 2006 was an ideal opportunity to showcase my work and I was invited by the producers of Opera UK and +Logo to choreograph their productions thereafter.
Since then, I have continued to work for Opera UK and +Logo and also other companies and producers. At the same time, I kept creating work for Race and Rhythm DT. My piece De Lado a Lado was also presented at Resolution!, a contemporary duet that combines elements of Flamenco, Tango and Ballet with media, to portray a case of Domestic Violence.
Alongside your individual work as Choreographer you are also Artistic Director of Race and Rhythm Dance Theatre and Noche de Feria’s educational projects and events. What are the differences of the companies and your roles within? What is your long-term vision for the two?
Noche de Feria is the part of Race and Rhythm DT that celebrates the Spanish culture in its more traditional way with shows, events and workshops. On Noche de Feria’s educational side we run the “Creative Flamenco Marathons”, where participants have the opportunity to train for 16 hours over a weekend and culminating in a performance in front of an audience. With many people not being able to commit to weekly classes, the idea of the marathons was devised to enable people to further their skills over a short period of time whilst also gaining performance experience.
In our marathons we also give the participants the tools to put together their own routines to broaden their creativity. This is not usually provided in regular Flamenco classes, where more often students learn the technique and set choreography only. At the end of the marathons, the students have the opportunity to show their new skills, accompanied with live music by our professional musicians, to an open audience.
The evening of a "Creative Flamenco Marathon" also showcases the work of our newly re-named group of artists “Tacones Lejanos” featuring professional musicians and dancers from Noche de Feria, performing in a variety of events in the UK.
So, my main role in Race and Rhythm is to choreograph and devise new productions and in Noche de Feria I am Artistic Director, Event Organiser and Workshop Leader.
2008 has already been a busy year for you. You have choreographed the Opera UK production Ole at Bloomsbury Theatre; Tell Her Today, a music video for Tom Baxter and two new works for Race and Rhythm Dance Theatre; Temperamento and De Lado a Lado. You have also facilitated the Theatre Lab La Casa De Bernarda Alba with +Logo at the Actors Center and you have participated in the research and development of Wildfire! Are you looking ahead to any forthcoming choreographing, educational projects or events you would like to share?
On the educational side, I have recently been involved with Spanish cultural events including the past successful attempt to break a World Guinness Record in dancing Sevillanas. We collaborated with the Spanish Tourism Board and the Cervantes Institute in training hundreds of people to dance in the event.
For Big Dance, we are going to run our first Latin Marathon. Participants will have the opportunity to learn and/ or improve their abilities in Flamenco, Tango and Salsa and perform at the end of the workshop. This will be on the 5 and 6 of July. On the 6 of July we will have a Latin Party after 7pm open to audiences. For this project we will be collaborating with Tiempo de Tango and Matices Latinos. There are limited places available so to register and for further information visit our website www.raceandrhythm.com/ .
Race and Rhythm is planning a new project that will take place every Sunday from October onwards. It will cover various dance and music activities ranging from lectures and debates, workshops, jams, traditional and contemporary performances, sharing of works in progress and fiestas. The production Ole will be touring internationally and we are looking to also tour Frida.
We are also currently working on some exiting projects in India and Buenos Aires…which will be revealed in due course.
Your choreography Frida that you originally created in 2006 for Race and Rhythm DT was a great success for your company. You reworked and toured Frida in the USA last year. Comparing the initial creation and rehearsal process, how do you see your role as choreographer and Artistic Director in reshaping an existing work such as Frida?
I first created Frida in 2006, which premiered at The Robin Howard Dance Theatre. The choreography was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s work and life. The result was, in my opinion, a very versatile and dynamic interdisciplinary piece that was, at the same time, too condensed. Therefore, I felt that there was enough potential for it to become a full-length production.
The fact that is was Frida Kahlo's birth centenary gave us the opportunity to take it to its celebrations in USA. The initial 20-minute piece embraced many elements (originally composed music, traditional live singing, projections and various dance styles). We developed the original sections and in addition to the projections, we added video, more dance styles and live music by the Spanish violinist, Elena Jauregui. Elena has now become one of our main music collaborators.
As Artistic Director and Choreographer, the experience of extending and reshaping Frida was really constructive. I think it is a good idea to create and present work in progress or a short version of a piece to audiences before developing a full-length production. You will receive feedback that might challenge your ideas and help you as artist to find the strength and weakness of your work. As a result, you might gain a clearer structure to achieve your aim of choreographic balance and to portray your vision to the audience.