I arrive at the New College of Florida gym on Monday night thinking I'm late for the Fuzión Dance Artists’ 6th Season Concert practice. In a glassed-in racquetball court, Creative Director and Co-founder Leymis Bolaños Wilmott rehearses a dance with two company members. I pass them into the mirrored practice room to a sea of stretching bodies. As I unsuccessfully look for extra room, the stretchers begin clapping and then, slowly and with much conversation, disperse.
I had walked into the end of a community dance class which Fuzión offers every Monday and Wednesday night. The Fuzión company members and apprentices seamlessly move into their next projects, quickly eating, drinking tons of water, preparing music, changing clothes and then working with the largest white fabric prop I have ever seen. Company members move in and out of the fabric; they take turns holding it from the sides. They hold the giant fabric high and low, they make big rolling waves and fast choppy waves. They move upstage and downstage, the fabric soft and then stretching taut. They wave using only left hands, only right hands and then both hands. They quickly make a decision about the best height for holding, rhythm for waving, and appropriate tautness and stage positioning---and then begin running through dances.
The 6th Season Concert is titled The Red Tent and is an exploration of women and their stories. It's also a beautiful combination of modern dance styles and music. The white fabric, company member Angela Rauter explains to me, “is the connection between women, the fabric that binds us together … Each section is very different and, to me, that is what connects women: that we have this ability to be completely different facets of ourselves when the time is necessary---like when we need to fight for our children we becomes fighters; when we feel sexy we become sexy goddesses.
"The last section," Rauter continues, "is about the mother-daughter relationship and moving on to the next stage in life. Women have this innate amazing ability to transform that way. The fabric is that connection.”
Thoughtful and poignant explorations of women and their relationships with themselves, their partners, their family and their community continues throughout the performance. The dances move from sharp, tribal and modern to thoughtful, slow, and strong. Each dance tells a story with build-ups and climaxes, sometimes playful, sometimes hauntingly emotional and precise. Similar to life, the stories sometimes end with satisfying resolutions and sometimes with transitions into the next life story. I keep finding myself so engrossed in the rehearsal that I am clapping and laughing and leaning into the dances instead of just taking notes. This experience of enjoying and being inspired by dance while having the warm feeling of community makes Fuzión a special asset to our arts community. They don't just talk about being focused on our community; they actually spend massive amounts of time and energy talking and listening, watching and interacting. Through their community programs they build relationships. They collaborate with other artists and musicians. They provide accessible performances to include all of our community in the experience of modern dance. All of this interaction and attention shines through in The Red Tent performance. Anyone who enjoys dance, music, energy, community and creativity will find something to love in The Red Tent.
The Red Tent runs this Friday and Saturday (March 16th and 17th) at the Jane B. Cook Theater at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets and more information on Fuzión dance visit www.FuzionDance.com