Dance

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.

Lifetime

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. 

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Robert Battle is a Miami native. He grew up in Liberty City. He went to school there, and this is where he learned to dance.

Battle leads one of the nation’s premier dance companies, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.

But for him, Miami will always be home, and that always factors into his work and inspiration, he says.

Nadege Green / WLRN

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is commissioning 10 new pieces to celebrate a decade in downtown Miami.

The commissions, dubbed 10@10, will all be performed in 2016. They include a dance piece choreographed by Miami native and Alvin Ailey dance director Robert Battle.

Battle attended a press conference Tuesday at the Arsht Center and talked about his dance, “The Attention of Souls,” which will debut March 2016.

www.artdecoweekend.com

01/09/15 - Next time on South Florida Arts Beat, Amanda Bush brings us the exciting details about the 38th Annual Art Deco Weekend on Miami Beach. Charles Greenfield talks with Artistic Director, Lourdes Lopez, about the Miami City Ballet’s 2015 enchanting season events.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Nora Chipaumire is in the middle of a dance workshop at the Kendall Campus of Miami Dade College.

She asks about 12 dance students of different races to define what it means to be a black man in America -- an especially weighty topic right now.

Many of the students are hesitant to try to describe the black male experience.

"I’m saying, let's go into places of inquiries," she says.

"Culture Concrete": A Dance Film Set In Miami Marine Stadium

Nov 12, 2014

In 2013, Hattie Mae Williams, a contemporary dance choreographer, won a grant from the Knight Foundation’s Arts Challenge.

Now, the New World School of the Arts graduate is having her film debut with “Culture Concrete,” premiering at The LAB Miami in Wynwood this Saturday, Nov. 15.

It’s set within the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key. Since the stadium's abandonment in 1992, it has become a hub for graffiti artists, both local and international.

David Bazemore

This year, the Miami Book Fair International isn't opening with an author (though Ira Glass did edit a book once). It's opening Sunday (Nov. 16) with a cross-pollination of storytelling and contemporary dance.

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