Miami’s Alma Dance Theater Shapes Feminist Messages into Sensual Moves

Editor’s Note: Step into the shoes of dancers from across the country who dare to imagine what it would look like if their city could dance with KQED’s If Cities Could Dance. Watch a new episode from season two of the video series every week through May 15, 2019.

Starting her own dance company was always part of the plan for Miami-born artist Marissa Alma Nick. Even as early as middle school, she knew she wanted to be a choreographer. “That’s how you have power,” she remembers thinking. “Like Martha Graham.”

With training in ballet, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary dance, Nick worked for five years as a professional dancer in Los Angeles, but she still wasn’t sure of her own voice—or where she would put down roots to achieve that childhood goal.

In 2011, while filming the rock and roll musical Rock of Ages in her hometown, she couldn’t resist the pull to move back to Miami. The city had a funding infrastructure for dance, space to rehearse and perform, and Nick says, “people who were open, willing to support artists and let you in their doors and just explore.”

She founded Alma Dance Theater in 2014 as an all-female company, providing a platform for her dancers to be unapologetically powerful and sensual. “For women, to express ourselves and have control and say over our body—especially in dance, it’s so cathartic,” Nick says. “The relationship between me and the dancers, it’s such an intimate and beautiful journey.”

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Miami critics and audiences seem to agree. Nick is a recipient of the 2018/2019 Dance Miami Choreographer (DMC) Award. Miami New Times named Alma Dance Theater the “Best Dance Company” of the year. And the Miami Herald calls her “one of Miami’s most vibrant dancemakers.” 

Recent Alma Dance Theater projects include an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” and Rebel in Venus, a millennial response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
As Nick says, “It’s sex-positive feminism. We’re here on stage because we’re choosing to be.”
Watch Nick and fellow Alma Dance Theater dancers Cyles Barnes, Reshma Anwar, Marisa Turner, Briana Mendez, Katrina Rose Tandy, and Jahzel Dotel perform on Virginia Key beach, in North Miami Beach, and in the Wynwood arts district to the music of Hope Littwin and Afrobeta— Text by Sarah Hotchkiss

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