DANCE REVIEW: The Fuzión 'family' embraces a diversity of performers
There are dance performances that dazzle you with the sheer perfection of the bodies, abilities and choreography involved. Then there are others that move you in an entirely different way.
That is what I experienced in Fuzión Dance Artists' second annual "Voices of Fuzión" concert, a mixture of dance, music, visual art and drama presented by company dancers and other members of the "Fuzión family." (Stickers given to the standing room-only attendees as they entered the New College of Florida Black Box welcolmed them to that friendly fold.)
Let me just say that the world would be a better place if it were more like this experimental show — a world more diverse, more inclusive, more collaborative, more tolerant, and just plain kinder. Did I mention it was a lot of fun too?
According to Fuzión founder Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott, the concept is to give performers the experience she had in her childhood living room — "to be in an environment where you can try things and take risks and still be loved." Thus, Fuzión friends of all ages, abilities and experience were invited to present finished creations or works-in-progress and the audience members, each supplied with index cards, were invited to comment on any and everything they saw.
And what a smorgasbord they had to choose from. With 14 pieces — everything from dance in many genres to theatrics, a capella singing, improvised percussion and video — space does not permit an assessment of each. And, needless to say, given the set-up, not all are destined for a larger arena. But each honored the uniqueness of its performers and their creative visions and some provoked more raw emotion than I've seen after a performance of "Swan Lake."
Among the most memorable for me:
Lonetta Gaines, who performed for black dance pioneer Eleo Pomare in New York City decades ago in New York City, in a re-staging of choreographer Shirley Rushing's "Four Women" to the music of Nina Simone, a powerful portrayal of pre-civil rights African-American women.
Fuzión dancer Rolando Cabrera, in fingerless gloves and a backwards NY Yankees hat, going back to his roots with an impressively athletic B-boy routine that allowed him to keep his shoes on. ("Barefoot is not my thing," confessed the Fuzión dancer of three years.)
Dramatic monologues by New York theater professional Denise Wilbanks, in an unfinished and untitled "Ibsen Project" and amateur thespian Cassandra Corrado, in Hedda Matza-Haughton's emotional expose of dating and partner abuse, "Words Not Spoken."
Laugh-out-loud text and movement in "Lipstick," choreographed by Sarasota newcomer Xio-Xuan Yang Dancigers that assessed the correct way to cook eggs, and "The Unofficial Biography of Marilyn Monroe," a pseudo-honorific to the ill-fated actress by Erin Fletcher that incorporated dance, video and aromatics ("She only wore Chanel No. 5," said a woman spritzing audience members with an atomizer.)
A well-crafted, if overly long, dance video by Fuzión administrative assistant Erica Lindegren, "The Many Sides of Self, indicating her significant talents behind the camera.
But without doubt, the most poignant piece may have been the briefest — Kateri Espinosa, singing a capella in an angelic voice and playing the guitar as accompaniment to the dancing of 10-year-old Ruby Sage, who has cerebral palsy and is largely limited to moving on her knees. The sheer joy written on Sage's face, dancing in her first staged performance, provoked smiles, tears and a set of reordered priorities in the minds of many who saw it.
A "Voices of Fuzión" concert may not be everyday fare. But attendance ought to be required occasionally, for performers and audience members alike. We'd all be better off if we acted more often like members of the Fuzión family.