Written By Josie Gulliksen
August 8, 2014 at 1:46 PM




August 8, 2014

By Josie Gulliksen

As an avid reader and fan of arts journalism since his high school days, Guillermo Perez found himself devouring arts journalism and reviews of theater, dance and film in newspapers and magazines. He followed the work of such writers as Deborah Jowitt in The Village Voice and Arlene Croce in The New Yorker, among many others.  He loved digging into their descriptions, judgments, contextualizations—in other words, their connoisseurship.

“Histories and biographies were also on my night table. Along the way, I began to learn what makes for effective expression, how observations can be put forth in an entertaining fashion,” Perez said.

He then began contributing arts pieces to the University of Florida’s Florida Alligator newspaper and to a Gainesville community magazine along the lines of New Times.

“That was the period I cut my teeth on the first of a legion of Nutcrackers — a dance critic’s unavoidable rite of passage,” said Perez.

He then had an opportunity to contribute features and reviews of music concerts to the local newspaper in Gainesville the Gainesville Sun. It was a dream come true to interview and write about musicians ranging from Count Basie to Patti Labelle.

He went on to receive his PhD from the Romance Languages and Literatures Department at the University of Florida, where he specialized in Latin American theatre, writing a dissertation on José Triana, a Cuban playwright.

Upon graduating, he moved back to Miami and continued to freelance for High Performance in Los Angeles and Art Papers in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter, Dance Magazine became interested in having him cover the dance in Miami.

“My initial piece was about the Florida Dance Festival, and I’ve been a correspondent for that publication since the late 90’s.  As a special correspondent, I also wrote features and reviews in the Sun Sentinel for nearly a decade,” Perez said. 

His next stint was teaching a course on history and issues of dance criticism at the New World School of the Arts, where he taught for several years. He’s proud of the wisdom he passed on to his students as well as the reading list he required.

“I feel lucky to have been able to pass on some of these experiences to BFA candidates in the Dance Department of the New World School of the Arts. The reading list I gave the students there remains my sanctuary of wisdom and beauty, containing authors from Jean-Jacques Noverre and Paul Verlaine to Edwin Denby and Marcia Siegel,” Perez said.

He has both musical and dance training playing the flute and clarinet and also taking dance classes at the University of Florida, at Gainesville’s Civic Ballet and also in Miami. Still he says he never thought of himself as a performer.

“Am I an artist?  Well, maybe on a good day since I do consider criticism a form of art. In that sense I guess you could say the page is my stage,” Perez said.

And working for Artburst is a thrill. Although he’s a newcomer as a contributor, he has been following the reviews on the site for a while as a way to gain different perspectives on shows he had either seen or wished he had.

“I know some of the other contributors from the local arts scene, and it’s stimulating to spend time with them as they wear their professional hats on the Web,” Perez said.

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