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Sign of the times

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  • | 11:00 p.m. November 24, 2014
Erin Fletcher, Leymis Bolaños Wilmott, Melissa Coleman and JoAnna Ursal dance by the movement of the now.
Erin Fletcher, Leymis Bolaños Wilmott, Melissa Coleman and JoAnna Ursal dance by the movement of the now.
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For artists who create in the moment, such as improvisational jazz musicians, artists and dancers, the concept of now can be a thrilling motivator. The majority of Sarasota’s artistic offerings are performances and interpretations of work written decades and centuries ago. But Fuzión Dance Artists’ work is a mirror of the choreographers’ experience of the issues of today.

Founded in 2002 by Florida State University graduates Leymis Bolaños Wilmott and Rachael Inman, Fuzión is Sarasota’s first professional contemporary dance company. All encompassing in style and technique, the company embraces its fusion namesake with collaborative and diverse choreography ranging from traditional to hip-hop, jazz, modern and African/Middle Eastern styles.

“Voices of Fuzión,” held Dec. 5 through Dec. 7, at the Jane B. Cook Theater, will showcase the company’s penchant for a powerful parade of new and eclectic dance pieces. Dancers/choreographers JoAnna May Ursal, Sandra Portal-Andreu as well as company members Melissa Coleman, Erin Fletcher and Wilmott, artistic director, will all present their most recent work. Like the human body itself, their ideas are flowing, organic and growing.

“The uncertainty of not knowing what it’s going to look like because it’s evolving until the day of the performance is very stimulating,” says Wilmott.

Each artist’s piece has been gestating since this summer, when an esteemed dance panel chose each work-in-progress during an intensive workshop. “Voices of Fuzión” is the culmination of the journeys of those pieces as well as the artists.

“For me, I start with the music,” says Coleman. “But as I’ve gained more experience and been in the professional world longer, I discover the piece along with the dancers, so at the beginning I don’t even know how it’s going to turn out.”

Coleman started out as a competitive gymnast. When she turned 14 she enrolled in a performing arts high school and gave up the vault for the dance floor. Her upcoming work reflects those early gymnastic days. She describes her piece as reflecting power, strength, threshold, women and freedom.

Fletcher’s route to Fuzion started in the traditional sector of dance: the ballet. Dancing with the Boston Ballet in children’s parts, Fletcher was enchanted with the artistic life of dance. As she matured as an artist, she drifted into the multifaceted form that contemporary dance allows.

“There is no limit to what you can do,” says Fletcher. “Contemporary can break the dancing mold with various visual aspects, costuming, music and themes.”

Her process is different with each new work, but Fletcher always revolves around two themes from her life: physical strength and pushing boundaries. And with her new work, Fletcher has added elements of sound and visual flair.

Ursal entered the world of dance almost by accident. The mellow and often quiet dancer began as a pianist studying classical music. However, like Coleman, performing arts high school had much different plans for her.

“When I went to a high school I saw my ballerina rommates dance to jazz,” says Ursal. “After that, I had to move. I couldn’t stay in my seat.”

Ursal never loses sight of the human connection in her work, and each piece is an extension of herself and the dancers in the piece.

“I have to know the dancers first, learn how they move, what comes out of them,” says Ursal. “It always happens in the studio.”

Wilmott is no stranger to choreography. During her career and as the artistic director of Fuzión Dance Artist, she has crafted more than 100 pieces. Wilmott was practically born dancing. According to Wilmott, her Cuban roots made moving and dancing a daily occurrence whether it was moving her whole body to communicate or recreational salsa dancing with her father. When Wilmott entered a junior high magnet school, she discovered that this everyday movement she used to express herself could be studied. Dance saved her.

“It kept me in school,” says Wilmott. “Dance was a way I could communicate that was more comfortable to me than actually using words.”

Wilmott’s process is one of constant collaboration; her newest work is the epitome of the collaborative nature of contemporary dance. It features work from sculptor Nathan Wilson as well as quadriplegic dancer Dwayne Scheuneman. The piece, “Closed Quarters,” plays with the nature of boundaries, access, space and hope. Communication is at the core of Wilmott and her corps of choreographers’ work. “Contemporary dance is a global movement and constantly evolving and reflects what the dancer is experiencing at the moment,” says Ursal. “It’s the sign of the times.”

‘Voices of Fuzión’
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec 5 and 6 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 7
Where: Jane B. Cook Theater, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail
Tickets: $35 and $15 for students
Info: Call 359-0099, Ext. 101 or visit


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