“Men Who Dance,” a project of the South Florida-based Inter-American Choreographic Institute and its founder Rafi Maldonado López, aims to smash the strict gender roles that dominate traditional dance.
Maldonado described “Men Who Dance” as “an explosion of artistic expression meant to explore, deconstruct and redefine some of the concepts and notions of masculinity.”
Last year, the inaugural festival made history, the first live indoor dance performance at a major theater after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered venues around the world, and it was a sellout. Dancers from the region’s largest companies, including Miami City Ballet, Dimensions Dance Theater, Dance NOW! Miami, Cuban Classical Ballet and Tango Out, joined together on the same stage in “a show of force and camaraderie” to both their artists and community.
For this second edition, “Men Who Dance” has truly gone global, attracting an even more diverse line-up, including Florida Grand Opera, Arts Ballet Theatre of South Florida, RTW Dance and Danish Dance Theater. The cast will include gay and straight, cisgender and transgender dancers from the United States, Argentina, Colombia, Denmark and Paraguay.
“All of the artistic directors are doing something that was thought to be impossible — working together on a single show,” Maldonado said. “The people who are coming are world champions, attracted to this idea that we want to do something different in Miami, to be inclusive of everyone.”
One of the featured performers is Pontus Lidberg, artistic director of the Danish Dance Theater in Copenhagen, who will premiere part of a larger work, “Wings and Ash.” Lidberg, a recipient of a prestigious 2019 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, has created work for New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Paris Opera Ballet and many other leading companies.
“When I talked to Rafi, the title ‘Men Who Dance’ reflected my trajectory through my whole career,” explained Lidberg. “In certain kinds of dance, especially classical ballet, male interactions are limited in how often and how they happen … It’s not just men who dance, but men who dance with each other, and that’s something I’ve been working on for years.”
But Lidberg was quick to point out that his work is “quite subtle and lyrical and soft and tender. It’s not so much about gender as a connection. Gender is irrelevant. In my work, there are no pre-assigned roles, just people connecting with each other … Anything other than that wouldn’t be true.”
Since the first performance, Maldonado has received invitations to take the “Men Who Dance” to Key West, Orlando and New York, with hopes to bring the concept to Mexico, Spain and Italy in 2022.
“Everywhere it goes, [‘Men Who Dance’] becomes a little more international and takes on the local flavor, too,” he emphasized. “There are many things that came out of the pandemic, but the most important is that human connection is not optional, not realistic. Isolation is against our nature as human beings. And performing arts need to be experienced in person.”
“Men Who Dance” will be presented on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27 – 28 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $25 at BrowardCenter.org.