Florida Dance Association’s WinterFest

By Manuela Gabaldon

WinterFest, from The Florida Dance Association, producers of the renowned Florida Dance Festival, made its debut this past 2008 holiday season in Miami and Miami Beach. At the festival, South Florida dance fans had the option of taking a class or simply enjoying one of the many public performances hosted by the New World School of the Arts.

Celebrated improvisational dancers Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser, whose appearance was made possible in part by a grant from the National Performance Network’s Performance Residency Program, led the celebration with their once in a lifetime pieces. Also kicking off the festival was acclaimed German mixed-ability company DIN A 13, led by wheelchair dancer Gerda König, in a performance called Body Distance Between the Minds, co-presented with Tigertail Productions as part of danceAble.
danceAble, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, FIFI Projects, the Division of Cultural Affairs, and other contributors, spotlights disabled dancers and complements Florida Dance Association’s mission of inspiring the art of dance in everybody.

Now in its ninth-year, the project focuses on making dance a basic means of “physical expression for people with or without disabilities.” Also as a part of danceAble, an exceptional free screening of Making The Difference: Dance Taboo in Sao Paulo, a film about Gerda König’s exploration of dance and the opportunities available to dancers with disabilities in Brazil, was open to the public at the FIFI Projects art gallery in Wynwood Art District.

In addition, many other performances, classes and workshops were offered to dance students, teachers, choreographers, and other professionals in dance/theater. Available classes included a danceAble workshop, ballet, modern dance, Afro-Brazilian dance, hip-hop, jazz, improvisation classes, and Pilates. These master classes and workshops, which culminated with a final group performance, drew a group of students from all over Florida to study, train, and perform in a dance-oriented environment. WinterFest 2008 was more than a dance festival, it was an opportunity for Miami locals and visitors to interact with each other and share their continuing passion for the arts. Any event that gathers people together for the mutual exchange of the art within them is invaluable to its community.

The arts have never been more in need, it is up to us, and organizations like The Florida Dance Association to not only keep them alive, but to breathe new life into them. The arts have their faithful servants who must take it upon themselves to inspire the love for art in others and build the art community around them through sporadic and gutsy events like WinterFest 2008.

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