Local and International Dancers to Strut Their Stuff at STEP OUT, Cleveland: Shake off the Rust


Cleveland Public Library and LAND studio have partnered to bring two days of intense (but fun) dance programming to the Global Center for Health Innovation – no suit or medical knowledge required. Instead, the weekend will aim to build community and explore the culture of social dance with free lectures, workshops and a nighttime party all aimed uncovering why dance is such a powerful tool to bring people together. STEP OUT, Cleveland: Shake off the Rust "dismantles the division between audience and performer, bringing experts from across the country to discuss and teach those styles of dance that are practiced off the stage: in clubs, at parties, and on the street." 

International touring electronic music producer FreQ Nasty (pictured) will be on hand, as will b-girl Ana Rokafella Garcia, a breakdancing pioneer who grew up in New York City in the 1980s. Other guests include champion dancer, writer and motivational speaker Ragen Chastain, who'll speak on the relationship between dance, body image and the "permission to take up space." Sokeo Ros, the founder of the youth performance group Case Closed!, and international arts advocate Leah Nelson will both lead workshops based on their experiences growing up abroad and finding their voices through dance. The aptly named the Fungineers, a freestyling, beatboxing band of breakdancing puppets, will perform as well as a slew of Cleveland dancers who'll bring everything from aerial silks to hoop dancing to burlesque. 

Program presenters hope to help participants rediscover the roots of dance as something that connects people. “Dance is a social practice but so many times we are presented with commercial platforms for dance and we lose the person-to-person feel,” Rokafella writes in an email, explaining her interest in the program. DJ FreQ Nasty echoes the sentiment, explaining, “Dance can help us connect authentically in an atomized and commerce-based society. It can help us find modern and culturally relevant spiritual practices that speak to life in this day and place” in a press release. And if all that seems a little too heavy, dancer Leah Nelson says,  “The spirit, energy and goodwill released during movement — whether spontaneous, as it is on the street, or deliberate, as in a cultural rite of passage — allows for people to show themselves to each other in ways that surprise and illuminate.” Find out more about the event, which takes place on Nov. 8 and 9, on its Facebook page and register online through the Cleveland Public Library.

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