Performers from some of South Florida’s finest companies will join forces to present “Men Who Dance,” at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Amaturo Theater.
On Saturday, Nov. 28 artists from Miami City Ballet, Dance Now! Miami, Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, Cuban Classical Ballet, Florida Grand Opera, Maestro Gustavo Guru, and Tango Out are among the extensive array of genres and companies who will converge on stage in this live performance event.
"Men Who Dance" is the brainchild of dancer, educator, director and innovator, Rafi Maldonato. The performance will be under the "umbrella" of Maldonato’s organization, the Inter-American Choreographic Institute, an organization that brings dance and dancers to the forefront and is a vehicle to present innovative and collective dance world-wide.
Maldonato was initially inspired to create “Men Who Dance” after seeing a movie from the late 1960s that features Edward Villella called “Man Who Dances: Edward Villella.” The movie chronicles the stamina, the virility and, ultimately, the exhaustion of this famed dancer who was at the peak of his career.
Seeing the movie, and carrying a little seed in the back of his mind over the years, Maldonato wanted to address the role of men in the performing arts world.
“We really need to redefine this [male] gender on stage. Even as dancers, we still have a hiccup about it,” Maldonato says.
"I would like for dancers to get on stage and have the opportunity to deconstruct the stereotype around gender. What does it mean? What is masculinity?"
The evening is an opportunity to see an eclectic group of performing artists, who each offer very diverse performance skills.
"Everyone has a different way of moving on stage, each offers something unique and everyone was so enthusiastic to offer what they do best."
The performance is a compilation and collaboration of multiple genres including classical and modern dance, voice, Latin dance and video. There are four world premieres as well as choreographic collaborations.
It will showcase many of the southern Florida known artists, but, for the first time, will also put Maestro Gustavo Guru's dancers on the main stage as a performing art, presenting capoeira, a mix of music, acrobatics and martial arts.
Maldonato has the hope of bringing “Men Who Dance” to cities throughout the world. Each performance will be different as the identities and cultures in each city vary. The point of the "Institute," he says, is to open perspectives and possibilities in performing arts.
"Every performance in each city will be an iteration, a journey, from the genesis or creation of man. For us, here, we start with the creation, then we journey to tribal, which can be different in each city. So each piece on the program has a particular intention. With COVID, though, we have certain limitations, certainly in numbers of people on the stage. This came into question, but how can I not put art onto the stage?” he asks.
While the show itself is one aspect of the performance, the COVID quarantine has necessitated new ways and protocols for theaters presenting live performance. Not only must the dance organizations follow procedures, but the Broward Center itself is learning.
This performance will be the first indoor live event. From box office ticketing challenges that require purchasing seating pods of two or four to safety issues of audience temperature checks and usher valeting to seats, the procedure is a daily learning process to follow CDC guidelines.
As the front of house, safety needs are arranged, the backstage protocols also must be followed. In a usual performance situation, the backstage area is a flurry of activity while artists warm up, and get acclimated to the "performance environment." In the New Normal, this cannot happen. Groups will not be intermingling and will be in their respective dressing areas until time to perform. Dressing room space is redesigned and limited, ways to enter the stage and leave the stage are defined so no one is crossing paths with another person.
Each dressing room will become the active space for artists to prepare for their performance.
There is something to be said about the willingness and resilience of the performing artists that gives new meaning to the term "the show must go on."
“We have copious amounts of paperwork that has been sent out, official policies and procedures from the Broward Center,” Maldonato says. “Every audience member sees the map of seating and social distancing, and has all the CDC guidelines. They have done an extraordinary job. I’m really impressed with the theater."
The show will be one act, which has become the norm for live performances nationwide. This effort to keep the arts vibrant and alive is one that is supported by audience and artists alike.
"Men Who Dance," 8 p.m. Saturday, November 28 at the Broward Center for Performing Arts Amaturo Theater, 201 SW 5th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Tickets on sale at Broward Center AutoNation Box Office: www.browardcenter.org or call 954-462-0222