[Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg rehearsing “Transparente.” Courtesy Patricia Reagan Photography.]
Animated chatter in Spanish and English. Dancers and dances from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia. Generations of former Miami City Ballet talent. Dancers whipping across the studio to the tortured vocals of Cuban diva La Lupe. A recent rehearsal of the fledgling Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, headed by former MCB star couple Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, reveals a ballet troupe that’s intrinsically Miami.
The pair launched Dimensions with an inspiring and accomplished show last November. This Saturday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center they’ll give their first full main stage performance since their debut.
Kronenberg and Guerra spent a decade joined so closely they practically merged, their real life relationship filling their performances of romantic ballets like Romeo and Juliet and every pas de deux they danced. Still, the stress of going from leading dancers who only had to think about their own performances, to artistic directors responsible for everything from fundraising (which includes their own teaching and performing fees) and booking choreographers to buying water, is sometimes overwhelming. As they run through “Transparente,” a portrait of an emotionally embattled couple, they hurl themselves into its dramatic lifts and tense back and forth.
“[Choreographer] Ronald [Savkovic] said you guys have the right state for this ballet,” says Kronenberg afterwards. “I was like ‘you have no idea’.”
Guerra, laughing, bends to kiss her foot. “It’s good to get the tensions out.”
Still, they are thrilled, if sometimes overwhelmed, at their new project.
“It really is a test of how invested we are,” Kronenberg says. “The reward is you watch the dancers and they grow and things come together. It’s amazing.”
They’ve gotten lots of help from the relationships they built during their many years at MCB. Yanis Pikieris and Marielena Mencia, MCB’s first lead couple, have given them rehearsal space at their Miami Youth Ballet studios in South Dade. Saturday’s show includes Esferas, a striking, sculptural trio by current MCB dancer Ariel Rose, who’s got talent and ambitions as a choreographer. The show also features Katia Carranza, a former MCB principal dancer (she has rejoined the company this season), in a pas de deux from Sinergie, choreographed by ex-husband and fellow MCB alum Luis Serrano while he was leading the Ballet of Monterrey in Mexico.
Current Dimensions dancers also contribute: Yanis Eric Pikieris (Yanis and Marielena’s son) is re-designing the website, Trisha Carter is company manager, Chloe Freytag (another former MCB dancer) takes photos for social media – now managed by yet another MCB dancer, Rebecca King, who’s on hiatus from performing.
All this makes Dimensions more collaborative than a traditionally run company. During rehearsal, Carranza, arched precariously atop Eduardo Iglesias’ uplifted arms, animatedly chatters down at him in Spanish. Later she, Iglesias, and Kronenberg work out a tricky bit of partnering together.
“We respect each other a lot as professionals and friends,” Carranza says. “So we can say “what do you think?” It’s more personal.”
Pikieris, who also co-founded and co-directed an independent troupe, Maximum Dance, has been an advisor and artistic contributor. He choreographed dances for Florida Grand Opera’s production of Before Night Falls, performed by and credited to DDTM. For Saturday, Pikieris is co-staging Fiebre, by Venezuelan choreographer Vicente Nebrada, whose work was a mainstay of defunct West Palm Beach troupe Ballet Florida. (Pikieris, who danced at Ballet Teresa Carreno, Nebrada’s company, is co-director, with Nebrada’s former partner Zayn Wilson, of the foundation which oversees Nebrada’s work.)
Kronenberg and Guerra’s bi-cultural marriage (she’s from Queens, he’s from Cuba), and adorable daughter (Eva, 4, is a budding ballerina and company mascot) helped make them audience favorites at MCB – affection which has carried over to Dimensions. And the troupe’s Latino dancers and repertoire, as well as Guerra, play naturally in Miami. DDTM appears on Telemundo this week, and has been invited to go on Univision’s Despierta America. The La Lupe songs for Fiebre will be performed live by Ilain Garcia and the Latin Power, with singer Cachaita Lopez – a rare blend for classical dance.
Coming up are performances at the Island Moving Company’s Great Friends dance festival in Newport, Rhode Island, a respected event for contemporary troupes, and an appearance at Danzar Para La Paz (Dancing for Peace), a UNICEF benefit, in Buenos Aires – if they can find a sponsor to underwrite their airfare. They’re setting up teaching partnerships with Miami Arts Charter’s Wynwood and Homestead schools, and have another collaboration with FGO next season. Their non-profit status was officially confirmed last week. This week Pointe Magazine, a top national dance publication, featured them online.
“Things are moving very quickly,” says Guerra. “We were so worried when we left Miami City Ballet. We didn’t think so many things would happen in a year.”
Despite the endless hours, worries about money, and a string of independent ballet troupes that have sprung out of Miami City Ballet, only to falter later, Kronenberg and Guerra aren’t giving up.
“There isn’t a choice,” Kronenberg says. “It’s like when people asked me ‘why do you want to dance?’ It was just something inside me I knew I had to do, despite the sacrifices – something bigger than yourself. I have the same feeling about this.”