MEET PIONEER WINTER Director, Pioneer Winter // Collective
Miami Dances features insight into traditional and nontraditional dance programs, performers and choreographers that make Miami’s dance scene special.
In this post we feature, Pioneer Winter, choreographer and director of Pioneer Winter // Collective. He founded the Collective in 2011, a company that showcases interdisciplinary collaboration, transmedia, physical theatre and contemporary artist. He is also Co-Director of RIFT Blackbox and the Miami Dance Studio as well as founding curator of transmedia performances for FilmGate Interactive. His most recent appointment was to Director of the 2017 Miami ScreenDance Festival by Mary Luft, founder of Tigertail Productions who host the yearly festival.
He was recently awarded a Knight Arts Challenge grant by the John and James L. Knight Foundation for Grass Stains, a site-specific performance initiative that mentors and commissions artists interested in creating site-based work through a close collaboration with acclaimed site choreographer Stephan Koplowitz.
He was also the first artist to be named a Dennis R. Washington Achievement Scholar, was awarded the 2014-2015 Miami Choreographic Fellowship, and is a fellow and faculty member in the FIU Honors College Department. Pioneer has presented work at the Perez Art Museum of Miami, Florida Dance Festival, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Triskelion Arts Center in New York City.
ABC: Tell us about your journey as an artist/dancer with your own company?
PW: I had to find a lot of things out the hard way and this company is sort of the natural thing that developed based upon my choices – both my mistakes and accomplishments. I’m still relatively new on this journey, so I am not sure if I can really comment just yet. Sometimes it is all more of a blur. I have a shut-up-and-work outlook. I’m always working. I get my best work done in the shower or while driving.
ABC: Who was your biggest influence in your journey to having your own company?
PW: I can’t say that a ‘person’ influenced my interest in having my own company. I think it was just the best way for me to convey my message. To be fair, I’m influenced by people with fearless voices who know what they want; people who can make small and large sacrifices for the bigger picture and people who have been doing this longer than me, and continue to do this. Recently, I’ve had mentoring opportunities from choreographers and artists I deeply respect. These interactions sometimes cause waves of self-doubt, but after those waves pass I feel more determined than ever.
ABC: What excites you about Miami?
PW: There’s so much potential and room and space to create work without feeling you’re somehow defiant, or forced to be unexceptional. Miami embraces young artists, and all the risks that go into supporting a young maker’s work. Here where you can be a self-starter, and it’s an excellent place to have a base – somewhere to return. I’m excited that I am part of a cohort of artists and choreographers willing to work together, rather than being competitive. Although Miami is continuously compared to other cities, it has its own gig going on. It’s a community being built in its own way on its own time.
ABC: Tell us about Pioneer Winter Collective?
PW: The Collective is really interested in developing programming through interdisciplinary arts collaboration. We continue to promote dance as an anchor for social change and community engagement by providing a platform for risk-taking, progressive, and experimental arts initiatives. I wanted to create a platform for myself, and now others through programs like Grass Stains, to create work.
The primary purpose of the Collective is for my own choreographic inquiry including LEAP (Leaders of Equality through Arts and Performance), a creative communication program for LGBTQ-identifying teens and their allies. Also to implement Grass Stains, a site-specific performance initiative that mentors and commissions artists interested in creating site-based work. They will collaborate with acclaimed site choreographer Stephan Koplowitz. The Collective is also resident dance company at RIFT Blackbox in Wynwood, where we have a hand in curating group shows with other emerging artists.
ABC: What is something awesome you are currently working on?
PW: Right now, I am getting ready to premiere Host, a physical theatre and transmedia work for five male performers – I’m one of the performers. In Host I collaborate with visual artist Jared Sharon. The piece looks at power dynamics – submission and dominance, authority and deviance from that authority. It’s really an aggressive work, athletic and grueling. Host will be presented March 3-4 at Miami Dade County Auditorium On Stage Black Box.
I was also recently commissioned by Karen Peterson and Dancers to develop a duet for myself and longtime KPD member Marjorie Burnett. I consider this a great honor and am very excited for the premiere of our duet in May. Marjorie’s unique mobility and fearlessness pushes the boundaries of my current practice, and I can’t wait to share what emerges from our collaboration.
ABC: From your perspective, how can we leverage the arts to build a more connected community?
PW: I wonder if the arts need to be actively leveraged. The arts have always built a more connected community. It’s the outside pressures that assert a broken sense of elitism. It’s only when value is assigned to motivate a sense of ‘connectedness’ that prohibitive ecologies emerge.
Miami Dances Blog
Miami Dances is a program of the Arts & Business Council and Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs to build new audiences and outreach for our communities amazing dance community. The blog features insight into traditional and nontraditional dance programs, performers and choreographers that make Miami’s dance scene unique and shine a light on some of our dance community stars.