At 24 years old, Pioneer Winter presents an impressive roster of work as a dancer, choreographer and media artist with Reaching the Surface, a performance that confronts the stigma of HIV/AIDS; 42: A Stonewall Prospective; and the upcoming Mother-Son (days)at Open Stage Miami at Little Haiti Cultural Center.  In addition, Winter is Director of Miami Dance Studio, which opened in August with affordable dance classes for children and adults.

Winter’s commitment to the arts is also reflected in his artist statement, which views “dance as an instrument of social change.”  In order to transform theory into action, The Miami Foundation GLBT Community Projects Fund provided Winter with a grant for Project L.E.A.P. (Living Equality through Arts and Performance).

Project LEAP presents free dance and creative communication workshops for 14- to18-year-old GLBTQ youth and their allies.  Starting Nov. 24, classes meet at the Miami Dance Studioevery Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. until May 2013.

In an interview with SFGN, Winter discussed Project LEAP and what participants can expect.

How did Project LEAP come about?

After teaching for a number of years, including participating in many enrichment programs, I could see how the arts play an active role in personal development.

Noticing how the arts have the power to improve confidence, increase self-efficacy, and bring people together with unique, shared experiences, is how I came up with the program mission.

In a nutshell, Project LEAP removes significant barriers for an at-risk population of 14- to 18-year-old GLBTQ teens and their friends to access the performing arts, receive mentoring from experienced teaching artists, and showcase their talent and ideas to the community at large.

What kind of response has Project LEAP received?

Everyone who heard about Project LEAP has been very receptive and interested. We're looking to serve between 30 to 60 teens, so we have sought out many organizations including Pridelines Youth Services, Safe Schools South Florida, and Culture Shock Miami.

Who will provide instruction?

Marie Whitman (creative communication; director of the North Miami Arts Collective, a well-respected performance and spoken word artist); Neil de la Flor (creative communication; a professor at several South Florida colleges and arts writer for Artburst Miami and Knight Arts Blog); Marissa Nick (dance); and myself (dance).

Who is the ideal participant?

All teens who value equality. While teens with previous experience in dance are welcome, we are also gearing this program to kids who haven't had the opportunity to try dance yet.

Why is it important to be open to GLBTQ youth and their friends?

While this program is structured to develop self-efficacy and confidence in GLBTQ youth, it will also build the same confidence, plus awareness, in allied teens… This project hopes to demonstrate that acceptance and mutual respect is built through understanding of shared ties — a demonstration of similarities instead of differences.

Is there a limit to the number of participants?

Even if we were to reach our capacity of 60 participants, we'd figure out an alternative schedule in order to include everyone.

Is late registration allowed?

We will allow late registration for the first few sessions. Interested individuals just need to give us a call or e-mail.

Please describe the ‘creative communication’ component.

Creative Communication includes poetic and theatrical expression, interpretation of non-verbal communication, and even some visual art.

Teens will develop their written and spoken strengths by creating poetry and plays, journaling, and engaging in open discussion.

Can you provide a brief preview of visiting artists and cultural/ performance venues?

Teens will have the opportunity to maintain dialogue with [guest speakers] throughout the program, [and] will also perform with professional local artists in their culminating event at the Adrienne Arsht Center's Peacock Foundation Studio.

Why are the arts important for teens?

The performing arts encourage full body expression. Project L.E.A.P. affords an opportunity for them to have a voice and express themselves in a supportive environment, providing a cathartic experience.

For more information, go to

If you want to register for Project L.E.A.P.


Starts Saturday, Nov. 24, 3:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.

Meets every Saturday until May 2013

Late registration accepted


Miami Dance Studio
222 NE 25 Street, Unit 102
Miami, FL 33137

How to register:

Send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 305-572-1119