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Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..

As this steamy spring melts into a sweltering summer, Actors’ Playhouse is inviting theater lovers to a wedding – a big, fat Jewish-WASP wedding, otherwise known as the Broadway musical “It Shoulda Been You.” Though the show seemingly takes place in the present, the piece by book writer-lyricist Brian Hargrove and composer Barbara Anselmi is an old-fashioned, stereotype-filled throwba..

'Death & Harry Houdini' Makes Another Magical Moment at ArshtDennis Watkins knows how to make an entrance. In the House Theatre of Chicago’s “Death & Harry Houdini,” now back at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater five years after it first wowed Miami audiences, Watkins arrives onstage with the help of theater technology unknown in Houdini’s day. Dangling upside dow..

Director Carlos Lechuga’s masterful unspooling of time in his second feature film “Santa y Ándres” constructs a uniquely Cuban mix of tedium and despair, resulting in an emotionally intense experience that sneaks up on the viewer in plain sight. The film opens with the stillness of a landscape painting: the eastern Cuban countryside of 1983 – rugged, lush, and verdant. The statuesque..

Memory – deep-seated, fragile, slippery, mutable – is at the heart of Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015, the play is a family tragicomedy given a sci-fi makeover; in other words, this thought-provoking theater piece charts its own, fresh path. Now getting its South Florida premiere as the second professional production from the Main Street Players, ..

The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..

That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..

The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..

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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