Merián Soto sees popular dance and music forms as time machines, taking us on journeys backward and forward, oftenwith her company's modern dance and vernacular shape-shiftersat once. In her three-part La Máquina del Tiempo, arriving next week at DTW, pianist Elio Villafranca begins a delicious danzón in "The Art of Improvisation" as Pablo Amores partners Marion Ramírez and Noemí Segarra (separately and together); the inventively mutating Amores adds solo bits of soft-shoe or swivel-footed, Latin-flavored hip-hop. The supple and resourceful Villafranca moves from mambo to timba to a touch of Thelonious Monk.
Glowing palm trees, old resort photos and dance scenes from Mexican and Hollywood Latin movies in Irene Sosa's video, and over-the-top costumes poke fun at stereotypes while allowing us to enjoy them nostalgically in "Paradise Review," in which improv gives way to set pieces like Amores's shadow dance à la Astaire. Soto's framework, with a slightly forced verbal informality, is always contemporary; her engaging piece salutes older styles through performances by artists who can bring improvisation to a climax.
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