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Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

Friendships can bring seemingly unlike people together to sometime form a strong bond. Such is the case in Walter Dean Myers’ coming of age novel, Darius & Twig. According to the summary notes of the book “Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.” It’s a tale of endurance, perseverance, an..

Kristoffer Diaz’s searing, hilarious and all-too-resonant play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” isn’t new to South Florida. The 2009 script, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, made its area debut in 2012 in a fierce and fine production at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company just a few months before the long-running regional powerhouse folded. Now “Chad Deity” has ret..

“This is no camera, nothing cut. This is real," says Tranee Wallace, whose story is one of three live radio plays in Dan Froot and Company's "Pang!" at Miami Light Project's Light Box at the Goldman Warehouse. Hers is one of a triptych of oral histories adapted into plays of families facing adversity: A Los Angeles single mom who loses the home she and her nine children live in after..

When it comes to farces, Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is one of the great ones. The 1982 comedy has made it to Broadway three times, and American audiences all over the country have embraced it in countless regional productions. Actors’ Playhouse is having a go at “Noises Off” as the second show of its 30th anniversary season. The play fits like a period glove on the main stage at the..

The intricate alchemy of inspired theatrical art is on full display in Zoetic Stage’s darkly hilarious, gripping world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts.” Demos-Brown, a rising theatrical star whose play “American Son” will open on Broadway in November, has drawn on his experience as a lawyer working on wrongful death cases to create a savage exami..

My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

The time seems right for Karen Finley to be visiting Miami, to be performing in the black box space of the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse, and to present her latest performance-art manifesto about the current political landscape, “Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.” In the show, which she began developing as a response to the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Finley plays a unicor..

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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