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“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..

Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..

Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..

Thirty-two playwrights, a half dozen directors, and around ninety plays in less than two hours. This is the South Florida One-Minute Play Festival, now in its fifth year, which runs this weekend. The festival, performed at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay and curated by Caitlin Wees and Dominic D’Andrea, has become a phenomenon in its own right. South Florida’s version of the festival i..

Mention the Harlem Renaissance, and those who know their history would be able to tell you a little or a lot about that vibrant period in New York’s black social and cultural life. But bring up the New York Renaissance – also known as the Renaissance Big Five or the Rens – and you’d be likely to stump anyone who isn’t steeped in basketball lore. Playwright and director Layon Gray ..

Listen up, humanity. God has a bone (or 10) to pick with us, and we’d best pay attention. I mean, if he can zap the wing off an argumentative archangel – and he can – just imagine what’s in store for us. Or simply consider the news, post-election. David Javerbaum, the Emmy Award-winning executive producer and head writer of Comedy Central’s much-missed “The Daily Show with Jon Ste..

I saw Lorca en un vestido verde, the Spanish-language version of Nilo Cruz’s play Lorca in a Green Dress eight years ago on a cramped stage in Little Havana’s Teatro Ocho, where Rolando Moreno took on the task of directing four actors who play eight roles. Even with the limitations of the production, Cruz’s inventive and lyrical script made Lorca one of my favorites from the Pulitzer Priz..

Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius (2016) is a masterful and engaging film exploring the dilemma of a singularly strong-willed, exceedingly attractive older woman who refuses to budge when power comes knocking at her door and tries to blow it off its hinges. A relative newbie to the director’s chair, Mendonça is a former film critic who layers a rich texture of skillfully developed metaphor..

The words that South Florida playwright Michael McKeever has chosen for his intense new play ‘After’ are powerful indeed. They would have to be, since his Zoetic Stage world premiere at Miami’s Arsht Center is a devastating piece about bullying, school violence and the moment when one horrific act destroys two families. But just as powerful as the words in “After” are the silences, as..

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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