Wilson Sayre / WLRN

On any given night in South Florida you can find a place to dance salsa, merengue or bachata. But when you think about going out to dance in Miami, contra dance is not high on the list, if it’s on the list at all.

Alicia Zuckerman / WLRN

Dance Now Miami performs Edward Stierle's "Lacrymosa," Thursday, May 19th through Sunday, May 21st at the Fillmore Miami Beach. The ballet was a response to the 1980 AIDS crisis and stands as its creator's own requiem. 

People told Edward Stierle he was too short for ballet. He was around 5'6" or 5'8", depending on who you ask. He'd been dancing tap and jazz since he was four or five years old, with his big sister Rosemarie teaching his first classes. But he had a calling for ballet. 

Nadege Green / WLRN

Marjorie Burnett is one of the founding members of Karen Peterson and Dancers, a mixed-ability dance company in Miami.

Burnett has cerebral palsy, and in the latest piece she’s rehearsing  she wants to challenge how people look at her because she’s in wheelchair.

“I want to show the audience that I’m a real person,” she says.

Burnett, 54, is performing with guest choreographer Pioneer Winter.  The piece is entitled “Gimp Gait,” a nod to the stereotypes and slurs used against people with disabilities.

Erin Stover-Sickmen / The Studios of Key West

  While the sunset into the Gulf of Mexico gets a nightly celebration at Mallory Square in Key West, the sunrise gets less public attention.

That will change for at least one day on Saturday, with Key West's first Water Dance. The performance is part of a national project that aims at bringing attention to water issues.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Zest Collective, a New York-based dance company, is in Fort Lauderdale for a one-night performance.

Gentry George, the collective’s founder, was born and raised in Miami. This is the company’s first performance outside of New York, and George says it’s only natural that he came home.

George, who also dances with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, says Wednesday night’s performance, "Courageous Chapel, Abandoning Theater," is largely inspired by his experience in the church.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Diaunte Jenkins’ introduction to dance was at family gatherings and barbecues.

When the beat dropped, he was the kid delighting the crowd with the latest hip-hop moves.

“From that point on I realized this is my gift because I would be doing it really everywhere I go,” he said.

In church, he was more subdued. That’s where he picked up worship and liturgical dances.

And by the time he figured out he wanted to pursue dance formally, he knew his neighborhood school in Liberty City, Miami Northwestern High , had a performing arts magnet program.

Black Girl: Linguistic Play By Camille A. Brown

Feb 19, 2016
John Power

Choreographer Camille Brown is in Miami to promote her new program. On Thursday, she hosted a demonstration and discussion at Miami Dade College North Campus.


Brown previewed an excerpt from her show “Black Girl: Linguistic Play,” which addresses the identity of a black woman in  American culture. It uses the rhythmic play of double-dutch, stepping, tap, ring shout and other African-American social dances.


Nadege Green / WLRN

Robert Battle is the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

He was raised in Liberty City by his cousin Dessie Horne,  who he calls his mother. Horne is a deeply spiritual woman who helped shape his love for the arts.

Battle rarely lets an interview go by without mentioning her impact on him.

She’s his biggest cheerleader and his inspiration. 

On a recent afternoon,  Battle and Horne sat down  at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City and reminisced.

Listen to the  conversation below:

Marsha Halper / Miami Herald

“In Haiti,  you always have the feeling it’s the first day. Every day is like Monday morning,” said Jean Guy Saintus, founder and director of Haitian dance company Ayikodans.

Whenever a dance performance is getting close, Saintus warns his dancers that this might be the only rehearsal they get.

“The piece needs to be ready tonight to be able to perform tomorrow. You never know what can happen tomorrow in Haiti,” he tells them.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Dance icon Arthur Mitchell is sitting in the dance studio at Dr. Michael Krop High School in Northeast Miami-Dade.

He’s 81 years old. And even seated, he has the presence of a dancer.

Head high. Chest out. Back straight.  

Ruth Wiesen, director of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, is reading excerpts of his lengthy biography to about two dozen students.

Wiesen, who helped organize Mitchell’s trip to Miami, tells the students that he was the first black principal dancer with the New York City Ballet in 1955.

Nadege Green / WLRN

There's a  building off Biscayne Boulevard near downtown Miami that looks like a giant stained glass box.

It’s home to the National YoungArts Foundation,  and the organization, which helps foster the careers of promising young artists, is inviting artists to come into the space and create.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet is the first dance company in residence at YoungArts, and the New York-based troupe is finding inspiration inside the box -- and out.


The Young Contemporary Dance Theater sits just on the edge of Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

Traci Young-Byron, the studio’s owner, said inside this former warehouse turned dance studio, she’s training black dancers like herself to reach for greatness.

“I’m just trying to use my platform as big or small as it may be to push African-American dancers,” she said.

A national audience will get to see Young-Byron and her dancers at work.

Nadege Green / WLRN

This is a story about a mermaid.

A vigilante-environmentalist mermaid, and she can't stay quiet any longer. She needs people to stop polluting South Florida’s waters.

“She’s the daughter of the goddess of the sea known as Yemaya in Cuba and the Caribbean,” says Elizabeth Doud.

In her one-woman show, Doud transforms into Siren Jones, the mermaid.

Nadege Greeb / WLRN

Every time the young dancers at Be Dance Studios in Miami Gardens walk into class, they see a framed photo of ballerina Michaela DePrince leaping into the air hanging on the wall above the ballet barres.

But on this day, DePrince is here in person, teaching them.

DePrince is a former principal dancer with the Dance Theater of Harlem. Now she’s with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, where she’s the only black ballerina in the company.

She walks the dancers though a warm up exercise at the ballet barre.

Courtesy Damion Bradbury

Before the pianist plays the final arrangement, Damion Bradbury stands in the front row of the New  World School of the Arts dance studio towering over most of his fellow dancers at 6'4".

His feet are tuned out in a “V” shape, first position. His long arms hang by his side.

The piano notes waft through the room.

Gerard Ebitz, a ballet teacher at the school, talks the students through what will be the last reverence at New World for the 2015 senior class.

There is a solemn feel to this dance sequence performed at the end of every ballet class.