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Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.” As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duart..

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog” in 2002. But as Zoetic Stage’s superb new production of the play at Miami’s Arsht Center demonstrates, her funny, shocking tale of two brothers struggling to survive is as potent today as it was 15 years ago. Maybe more so, given the country’s deepening divide. Parks’ harrowing drama examines the complex relation..

We are born. We live, have families, grow old. We die, leaving those who loved us to mourn. Playwright Thornton Wilder brilliantly captured the eternal verities of our journey through life in “Our Town,” his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life, love and death in a small New Hampshire town at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re at all drawn to theater, you’ve probably ..

“Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana” written by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Tamilla Woodard, and produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company, is a site-specific, immersive theater experience that interweaves narrative, performance, history and architecture. Nine short plays take place in nine hotel rooms on the second floor of the Tower Hotel, right off Calle Ocho on Seventh Street. Sanchez, ..

Artistic director and founder of Juggerknot Theatre Company, Tanya Bravo, had her first brush with immersive theater in New York City when she met director Tamilla Woodard. Working on the play “Broken City,” Bravo and other actors led audience members on a theatrical journey through the streets of the Lower East Side. “I was so blown away by the concept and the lines that were crossed between ..

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..

New Expectations and Definitions of Dance


Photo: West African dancer Sidiki Conde
Written by: Sean Erwin
Article Rating

Many of us can recall the iconic image from the recently completed Rio Paralympics and the match between two world-class fencers, anchored in wheelchairs, torsos thrusting backward and forward to avoid the thrust or score the touch.

For Francine Andersen, Chief of Arts Education for the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, just as these athletes have reset our expectations for world-class international competition, the performers of A New Definition of Dance will do the same for dance for the students, artists and audiences of Miami-Dade county on October 25and 26 at the Joseph Caleb and Miami-Dade County auditoriums.

Now in its second year, Andersen has watched how department-sponsored programs like A New Definition of Dance “inspires kids with and without disabilities to be their potential and not to fix limits on what they can achieve.”To accomplish this the department has partnered again with VSA Florida, Culture Shock Miami and the New World School of the Arts to bring internationally acclaimed touring artists with different kinds of disabilities for a two-day series of dance workshops, demonstrations and performances.

These performers include Hai Cohen, who, when a swimming accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, invented a new dance vocabulary with the cutting edge Israeli company Vertigo Dance.The choreographies generated by Cohen and his classically trained partner, Tali Wertheim, emphasize unusual points of contact between the back of hands and feet and include one signature movement where Wertheim palms Cohen’s head as he circles below her. One choreography sees the two wrestling their bodies into a tight knot on Cohen’s chair that bursts open as Wertheim leaps outward with a great extension of torso and arms, anchored by Cohen below.

Another international performer includes West African dancer Sidiki Conde, who at the age of 14 lost the use of his legs from polio. Conde encountered early on the negative effects of prejudice toward the disabled when some of the superstitious in his village wanted to banish him. His response was to master the Guinean rite-of-passage dances using his hands instead of his feet.

In 1988 Sidiki brought his unique approach to dance to the United States where he formed the Tokounou All-Abilities Dance and Music Ensemble, whose dance choreographies replace feet and legs with hands and arms to the accompaniment of West African drum rhythms.

Among the organizers of the 2016 New Definition is the non-profit VSA Florida, an organization that promotes programs for people with disabilities throughout the state of Florida. VSA Florida organized the first New Definition of Dance program last year at the University of South Florida and its success led VSA’s Executive Director Jennifer Sabo to take this year’s program on a three-city tour from Jacksonville to Tampa with Miami as the final stop.

Sabo admits that the bureaucratic hurdles can be intense when arranging visas, booking travel and accommodations for so many internationally-based dancers.

Sabo then adds, “But it’s all worth the effort. I get to see a little boy in a wheelchair who has never danced in his life get out of his wheelchair and join someone like himself in the middle of the performance floor, or a little girl with braces getting out on the floor because she sees these dancers and says to herself, ‘I can do that.’”

A New Definition of Dance, Oct. 25 and 26, offering both workshops and masterclasses with many open to the public. For more information and to register to attend the Miami workshops or masterclasses, visit: http://www.miamidadearts.org/education/vsa-floridas-new-definition-dance-miami or call 305-375-5024.

 


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About The writer

Sean Erwin is a writer and assistant professor of Philosophy at Barry University, with a focus on aesthetics and contemporary french philosophy.
Sean Erwin is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Barry University and received his Masters and Doctorate in Philosophy from Vanderbilt. He has presented and published on topics in political philosophy, Italian and French philosophy, and technology and performance studies. He currently serves as the senior editor of the Humanities and Technology Review.

Erwin is also a performance critic for Artburst, with performance previews and reviews appearing regularly there and in other South Florida publications. Artburst gives him the platform to critique the aesthetic principles he writes on as a professional philosopher through analysis of the concrete movements embodied by performers.

He is also an accomplished dancer and teacher in the Argentine Tango community. In 2000 he founded and served as editor of the Chicago webzine, Tango Noticias, a specialty dance periodical dedicated to examining Argentine Tango as a set of social practices rooted to the Southern cone’s history, politics, and culture.

Since his move to South Florida, he has both taught philosophy and served as a principal tango instructor for the Miami-based, Shimmy Club, a non-profit program that teaches Argentine Tango to vision-impaired teens. Through his involvement with the program, Erwin has been featured in articles and several news outlets including Univision, Telemundo, NBC News, KPFK Los Angeles, and the Miami Herald. For more information, see erwinsean.com.

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About the Writer

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