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We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..

Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..

Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..

Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..

“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..

Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..

Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..

The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..

Brazzdance New Work Dances into Diversity and Beyond


Photo: Photo credit: Toddy Holland
Written by: Mia Leonin
Article Rating

The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity through dance. The piece that premieres this Wednesday at the Gleason Room on Miami Beach began with a memory from Brazilian-born Soledade’s teenage experience as an exchange student in McFarland, Wisc. As one of only two people of color in the entire school, Soledade froze the day one of his school friends turned to him and asked, “What are you?”

“I remember that there were about three of us, just hanging out and talking outside the school,” Soledade recounts, “and one of them told a joke -- one of those offensive jokes about black people -- but right after the joke, maybe because I was not really laughing, he turned to me and asked, ‘What are you?’” This was the first time Soledade, who identifies as Afro-Brazilian/African-American, had been confronted with his racial and ethnic identity. “I couldn’t answer right away, and started to tell them about all the different ethnic groups in my family.”

That “what are you?” question was a jumping off place for Soledade’s newest creation. Using improvisation, he turned the question to the dancers in his company, Brazzdance, many of whom have had similar experiences.

One of the movement expressions Soledade utilizes for exploring and performing identity in “Shade” is “voguing,” a dance form that comes out of the 1980s’ Harlem ballroom dance scene. Voguing allows for highly stylized, unabashed expressions of self. Interestingly, Soledade likens voguing to contemporary culture’s obsession with selfies: “I felt that voguing and selfies were connected in that they both serve as a vehicle through which we can choose how to present ourselves to the world.”

Soledade incorporated a few elements of voguing in “Shade” – hand gestures, cat walk, duck walk, and floor performance – but his end goal was to find new ways of reinterpreting vogue and incorporating it into contemporary dance. He is also interested in moving beyond ethnicity and race to large expressions of identity: “I was born and raised in Brazil, but I have always been interested in the world and people around the world. I can sincerely say that when I am creating work I am always taking into consideration our shared humanities.”

Soledade discovered in the process of creating “Shade” how little control we have over so many aspects of our identity: “Many things about us are determined while we are still in the womb, the family you are born into, your physical traits, the place where you’re born, etc., so I start the piece referencing that quiet moment when we are in our mother’s womb. Kind of like the quiet before the storm.”

Always interested in collaboration Soledade, invited Jessica Muñiz-Collado, a music professor at Nova Southeastern University, to compose an original score for “Shade.” Visual artist Kandy Lopez has created a backdrop to represent the idea of unity within diversity.

Brazzdance presents“Shade,”Wednesday and Thursday, May 24, 25 at 8:30 p.m., the Gleason Room, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. General admission $25, Miami Beach residents $20, Students $15, Friday night VIP reception $50; brazzdance.com; 786-338-5488.

 


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About The writer

Dance writer and theater critic, senior lecturer in English Composition, University of Miami

Mia Leonin is the author of two books of poetry, Braid and Unraveling the Bed (Anhinga Press), and the memoir, Havana and Other Missing Fathers (U..

About the Writer

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