Mark Schreiner's University Beat report on the USF/VSA Florida-produced "A New Definition of Dance" event.
Breakdancing - or any kind of dancing for that matter - is a challenge for most of us.
But "b-boy" Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli makes spinning his entire body on one hand look easy, despite the fact that the 31-year-old has lived his entire life with arthrogryposis.
"Basically it’s a neuromuscular disorder. It affects the bones and the joints in your body," he said, baseball cap turned to one side. "For me, it primarily affects me in my legs, so I have very little muscles in my legs, but it also affects me in my shoulders, so I’m limited in the level of how I can raise my hands."
But that hasn’t slowed him down. Patuelli incorporates his crutches into his breakdancing, using them as equal parts propulsion and prop.
The play is adapted by Mike Poulton and directed by Eduard Lewis. Lewis is visiting USF as part of the school's British International Theatre program, which for almost 25 years, has brought leading theater figures from across the pond to Tampa.
"When I heard what it was all about and all the people who’ve been involved with it in the past as well and the reputation it has, and the fact I got to spend January and February in Tampa, when in London it’s absolutely freezing at the moment, was a huge pull," Lewis said.
The story that the road weeps, the well runs dry is based on - the migration of “Black Seminoles” from Florida to Oklahoma in the mid 19th century - isn't exactly well-known.
Even members of the cast and crew of the play opening at USF tonight for a two-week run admit they didn’t have too much of an idea what it was about at first.
"I feel like I didn’t learn this in history class at all," actress Tiffany Schultz says, while student assistant director Carlos Garcia adds, "I think it’s very interesting how it touches upon a part of history that is so seldom spoken about."
And while director/USF Assistant Professor Fanni Green admits she wasn't familiar with the history, "It’s a story that would be great to have in an educational institution."
"This is what was the spark for me to write this play in the beginning and I was really interested in my own history, my own familial history," Gardley says, "and so I feel like in a lot of ways this play is coming full circle."
In 2008, Mexican artist Pedro Reyes took the concept of turning swords into plowshares literally and created an art campaign called Palas por Pistolas. People voluntarily gave up more than 1500 weapons, which he first melted down to turn into the same number of shovels, then used them to plant a corresponding number of trees.
Shortly after that, government officials pointed out there was a similar gun return policy in the city of Juarez and asked Reyes if he wanted to use those weapons in his art. He said yes, and in return, received more than 6700 firearms.
But instead of shovels, this time Reyes broke them down and turned their components into musical instruments.
“Same as a shovel plants a tree, a musical instrument is also something that is alive," Reyes says. "Every time you use it, you generate a new sound, a new event and people can gather around the music and I believe that just instruments are kind of the diametrically opposite to what a gun is - like, the guns are the rule of fear and music is the rule of trust.”
The ongoing inertia in Washington, D.C., is keeping a pair of University of South Florida inventors from appearing at a Smithsonian Institution event--and it isn't the first time it's happened to them.
“We’re trying to use the original John Waters movie as inspiration. It’s a little darker and quirkier, which this new version is as well, but it’s a little ‘bubble gum’ and ‘cotton candy,’ and everything just like fun, fun, fun, and we just wanted to bring a darker side so we have somewhere to grow.”