Choreographer Spotlight: Harrison Monaco
Following corps de ballet dancer Harrison Monaco’s crowd-pleasing premiere of Lengua Larga at last year’s pop-up performances, the budding choreographer is once again creating a work that aims to get the crowd moving to the grooves with music set to Miami’s favorite Latin funk and jazz fusion band, Spam Allstars. We sat down with Harrison, who shares how those scenic drives across intracoastal bridges inspired his new work Across the Bay, created especially for this year’s expanded To Florida, With Love pop-up series.
Have you choreographed before?
I have choreographed a few times before. I started with some choreographic workshops when I was in school. I was also able to choreograph some works for students performed at Youth America Grand Prix a few years ago. Most recently, I choreographed Lengua Larga for last season’s pop-up performances.
What have you found most rewarding in this process?
The biggest reward of this particular piece has been working with my dancers. They are all so incredibly talented and I have enjoyed being able to pull out different energies and facets of their dancing. I think these performances are wonderful because it allows the dancers to show some different qualities that you may not see while they are all dancing more classical ballets in pointe shoes on the big stages.
The series is called To Florida, With Love, how does your home inspire your choreography? Were there certain locations/communities, people, or cultures that you had in mind when you created these works?
I am using music from a local band, Spam Allstars. The beginning of the track is taken from a weather report, talking about the winds and water conditions of Biscayne Bay. One of my favorite parts about living in Miami is driving on the bridges across Biscayne Bay and taking in the view of downtown Miami, with all of the high rises and our beautiful Arsht Center.
I think the way the music develops and Miami’s aquatic surroundings have really been influential in this piece. That, and our work this season on our new production of Swan Lake. All of these influences together helped me to come up with Across the Bay.
What do you hope the audience experiences when they watch your piece?
It has been fun to work on something with contemporary music and especially this terrific piece by Spam Allstars. I love that it has such a quintessential Miami funk to it. I hope the audience experiences that same sense of fun as well when they watch!
Catch Harrison’s Across the Bay and several other exciting new works created by Miami City Ballet dancers, coming soon to Ft. Lauderdale’s African American Research Library and Cultural Center, Morikami Japanese Museum and Garden, and the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
Click below for more information on dates and locations.
Photo courtesy of Harrison Monaco featuring MCB dancers in Harrison Monaco’s new work, Across the Bay.