Just a short distance across from the Miami downtown skyline sits a giant abandoned cement structure unknown to most and forgotten by many, the Miami Marine Stadium. The stadium has sat abandoned for over 20 years and, in that time, has morphed into an unintended creative space, a haven for urban artists. The atmosphere inside, as well as the art that covers nearly every inch of this structure, is raw, dynamic and unrefined with a seemingly never-ending contrast of urban influence that is in a constant state of change. It is quintessential Miami.
On any given evening, you can hear the poets rapping their lyrics down the corridors and watch urban artists create their masterpieces along the cement pillars, stairs and empty hallways. On weekends, visitors from all walks of life can be found wandering around inside, including professional and amateur photographers, skateboarding teenagers, pedestrian onlookers, street dance crews, models, film crews and professional ballet dancers, like myself. Regardless of background or creative ability, the one thing everyone shares in common is the fact that nobody is supposed to be there – the space is officially closed and off limits. Occasionally, the authorities will show up and kick everybody out, but the very next day and, sometimes even in a matter of hours, people always come right and keep doing their thing.
Beneath the stadium, lies a labyrinth of dark rooms and decaying cement corridors, which amplify and reverberate the unique fabric of sound this space produces. These acoustics create a rich urban backdrop for dance, and is where I chose to choreograph and record "Sleeper," my Radio Dances submission.
I titled this creation "Sleeper" because the stadium is described on the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium website, the non-profit organization currently spearheading renovation efforts scheduled to begin in May 2014, as having been in a "Sleeping Beauty" phase for the last 20+ years. I love that comparison because, from a distance, is does look like a decrepit old castle. But the difference between the fairy tale story and Miami Maine Stadium is rather than years of forest growth vines and thorns, this castle has been consumed by art – urban art – that celebrates our diverse creative culture here in Miami.
I chose to choreograph movements sequences using traditional balletic syllabi, altering those movements to give them different emphasis and sound dynamics. All of my dancing for this piece was done barefoot on the stadium's cement floors, which produces a very distinct sound.
Sounds highlighted in "Sleeper":
1. Water: Miami Marine Stadium sits right on the water's edge.
2. My bare feet dancing on the cement.
3. Glass and debris being swept.
4. Urban poets.
5. Urban artists sing spray paint.
6. Police sirens: Once they come, everyone has to leave.