An Interview with Letty Bassart on Metamoto

arts / Article

Metamoto is a collaborative presentation of the New World Symphony and Miami Dance Futures, and will feature two dances including Letty Bassart’s Requiem for a Mustard Seed Closes in Song, Act II,  and Yara Travieso’s SET.

In Requiem, Letty Bassart collaborates with composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, a quartet of New World Symphony Fellows, and visual artist Laura Luna to look at faith and miscarriage in spite of ____ (fill in the blank). “The result was a conceptual and literal nose dive into the unknown,” says Bassart. “Requiem goes on to explore how we deal with that unknown; what we do once there” She broaches the subject by using cabbages as metaphors for our ideas and obsessions, umbrellas as inept protectors from our fears, hurled brussel sprouts as precarious landmarks, and a cinder block monolith as yellow-brick road gone awry. These metaphors live on-screen and on the ground.

In SET, Yara Travieso collaborates with composer Jerome Begin, a septet of New World Symphony Fellows, visual artists Ryan Hartley, architectural designer Chat Travieso as well as fashion designer Fabiola Arias.  For the performance, Begin will amplify seven stringed instruments electronically, and process them live. "We wanted to create a world full of distortion and disorientation,” says Travieso, “both sonically and visually, zooming into how terrifying this could be, or exciting or liberating or..."

I had the chance to speak with Bassart about Requiem, the power of collaboration and her plans for the near future.

Neil de la Flor: I'm a big fan of collaboration, specifically the complexity and beauty of weaving together different (yet complementary) aesthetic perspectives, and what comes out of it. What's the greatest challenge you encountered while putting this evening together?

Letty Bassart: I have to say this has been one of those magical projects that has flowed from the start. Perhaps it is that many of the collaborations have  been percolating for a while and coincided at just the right time.  The greatest challenge has been the adventure of launching this only four months after the opening of this remarkable space.  It is a challenge we welcomed with open arms, enthusiasm and gratitude.

ND: What made it so great?

LB: This is exactly the type of challenge every artist dreams of: one that not only pushes the individual work, but that also pushes the boundaries of the form itself.  I am honored to work with such incredible people on the event and my piece.  Daniel and Laura are relentless innovators and masters of their craft.  I am always humbled by their generosity.  The dance artists in the piece are ridiculously talented inventors in their own right. In terms of the evening at large: if there was a metaphor for Yara it would be nuclear fusion itself, and Lydia Bittner Baird, well, humans just don't get purer than that.  On the New World Symphony end, our primary contact, Michael Linville has guided the process with ineffable elegance.

ND: Any funny stories?

LB: In a piece that features cabbages and brussel sprouts there are many. Need I say more?

ND: Good point! What is the one thing you would want an audience member to know or think about when watching the performance?

LB: My goal is always for people to see things, experience things and think about things in a new way.  I want for audience members to be open to the nonsensical, the visceral  and the open-ended.

ND: What's next for you?

LB: We'd like to see Dance Forums become a staple at the New World Center.  We'd like to see this production travel.  Like the Leonard Cohen song says, "first Manhattan" and then "Berlin..." Personally, I'm in the process of launching a new company, Thought Loom.  As the name suggests, I'm interested in the weaving and unraveling of ideas that live in apparently disparate wells.  Of course, because dance is my home, I'm particularly interested in plunging toward projects that underscore and redefine the influence of dance.

Event information: Metamoto, drawing its title from the prefix meta meaning “beyond” and the phrase con moto, a tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played "with motion," this first-of-its-kind Dance Forum aims to stretch the perimeter of classical sound and contemporary movement. WHO: Choreographers, Letty Bassart and Yara Travieso with Fellows of the New World Symphony featuring the compositions of Jerome Begin and Daniel Bernard Roumain. WHEN: Wednesday, May 11, at 7 pm; Thursday, May 12, at  7 pm. WHERE: New World Center, 500 17th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139. TICKETS: www.nws.edu/EventDetail.aspx?Eid=483

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