Moving Arts Cincinnati dance festival debuts this weekend at Downtown's Aronoff Center

Created by dancers from the Cincinnati and Kansas City ballets, it's meant to fill in a summertime gap.

click to enlarge Dancer/Moving Arts fest co-creator Cervilio Miguel Amado - PHOTO: PHILIP KOENIG
PHOTO: PHILIP KOENIG
Dancer/Moving Arts fest co-creator Cervilio Miguel Amado

You can add a new dance festival to the city’s cultural offerings when the inaugural Moving Arts Cincinnati occurs Friday and Saturday (July 27-28) at the Aronoff Center for the Arts’ Jarson-Kaplan Theater.

Created by Cincinnati Ballet principal dancer Cervilio Miguel Amador, former Cincinnati Ballet dancer Anthony Krutzkamp and Kansas City Ballet dancer Logan Pachciarz (who all serve as co-artistic directors), Moving Arts fills a  dance void for both audiences and performers over the summer months when the ballet, itself, is inactive.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for the dancers to have work over the summer and to be able to work with these choreographers, keep themselves motivated and aspiring and to keep going as an artist,” says Amador, who has been with Cincinnati Ballet since 2004. “(It’s also exciting) for the community in Cincinnati. We go four months without having a ballet production — I think it’s a little bit long, so I think that’s great for the city.”

Moving Arts is partnering with and draws some inspiration from the Kansas City Dance Festival, founded by Krutzkamp and Pachciarz in 2013. This year, choreography performed at Moving Arts will also be presented at the upcoming Kansas City fest.

Thirteen dancers comprise the inaugural Moving Arts company, including six from Cincinnati Ballet, four from Kansas City Ballet and one each from Oklahoma City Ballet, Dayton Ballet and Grand Rapids Ballet. The dancers spend five weeks learning choreography in Kansas City, in the studio rehearsing every weekday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“As a dancer, coming in on the ground floor of Moving Arts is really cool,” says performer Melissa Gelfin, also a Cincinnati Ballet principal dancer. “Being a part of something that has the potential to take off is exciting.”

Choreographers presenting world premieres at the inaugural festival are Stephanie Martinez, Colby Damon, Heather Britt, Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye and Jennifer Owen. Aside from Britt, a local favorite who regularly choreographs for Cincinnati Ballet’s New Works, none of the others has had work performed in Cincinnati before.

“One of my priorities was to bring to Cincinnati (choreographers who have) never done work in Cincinnati,” Amador says. “So that way it will be something new for the audience, but also new for the dancers.”

Amador doesn’t want to give too much of the choreography away but describes a few pieces: He says Martinez’s work is fluid and musical with a “Spanish flair;” describes Jolicoeur-Nye’s as “neo-classical, with nice beautiful lines and musicality;” and says that, by comparison, Damon’s is “darker” and more abstract.

“There’s something to be said about performing in a piece (that’s a) world premiere, where it’s been created almost entirely on you as a dancer,” says Gelfin, who partners with Amador in Martinez’s piece and also performs in Jolicoeur-Nye’s. 

Britt’s work is accompanied by a live performance on stage by the musician duo The Amador Sisters — who are, yes, Amador’s sisters. 

“I would like to create a show where you stimulate all the tastes, so it’s a full experience,” Amador says. He is eager for future collaborations with arts organizations. For now, Moving Arts will incorporate some visual arts elements and live music.

After 14 years with Cincinnati Ballet and the recent birth of his first child, it’s natural to wonder if Amador is looking to artistic leadership as the next step in his ballet career. He says he will continue dancing as long as he feels he is dancing well, and that dancers, like any other athletes, have to take it a day at a time. “I’m taking it a season at a time,” he says.

“This is also a way for me to start learning about life after dancing,” Amador adds. “There’s a lot that I’m learning so I can prepare myself for the future. Whatever I do after I’m done dancing, it’s going to be in the dance world.”

Moving Arts Cincinnati occurs Friday and Saturday (July 27-28) at the Aronoff Center for the Arts (650 Walnut St., Downtown). Tickets/more info: cballet.org.

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