Possibilities overcome limitations in upcoming VSA Florida and USF production

Dancers with disabilities return to make a difference.

click to enlarge Luca "LazyLegz" Patuelli in headfreeze - Domshine Homard-Payette
Domshine Homard-Payette
Luca "LazyLegz" Patuelli in headfreeze

Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli has arthrogryposis, which causes poor muscle growth and limited joint movement. This has not stopped him, however, from breakdancing, starting at a young age, joining Canadian breakdancing crew “Illmatic Styles” which competed in national competitions, and creating his own international crew, “ILL-abalities.”

Patuelli performs this week with VSA Florida, a hidden gem in the fine arts world. VSA Florida has partnered with USF College of the Arts and Students with Disability Services to bring back A New Definition of Dance for its second year. This event has expanded from Tampa all the way to Jacksonville and Miami, but will be focused in its home of Tampa Bay through October 22. Programs include workshops, outreach programs, presentations and performances. VSA Florida is a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. VSA Florida provides and supports arts education and opportunities for and by people with disabilities. Merry Lynn Morris, USF Dance Assistant Director, VSA Florida board member, founded the project in collaboration with USF’s Students with Disabilities Services.

click to enlarge 2015 dancers - VSA Florida
VSA Florida
2015 dancers

“The inspiration for me came from the desire to promote and bring more visibility to professional dance artists with disabilities‎, bring diverse artists together from different backgrounds and dance genres, and bring these artists in intersection with our USF dance students and the Tampa community,” Morris said. USF will host world renowned artists with disabilities and artists who work together with them, including Hai Cohen and Tali Wertheim, Sidiki Conde, Hanna Harachakova and Ihar Kisialliou, Liu Yan, and one of the top acts of America’s Got Talent, Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli.

I spoke with Luca about some exclusive info on the upcoming shows. I asked him how he got involved with A New Definition of Dance and how it has changed the way people perceive dance, he said that Morris reached out to him after they met at USF several years ago.

click to enlarge Liu Yan, dancer - VSA Florida
VSA Florida
Liu Yan, dancer

“I feel blessed to share my passion with other dancers," he said. "Integrated dance has been around for a while, but it’s still new to a lot of people."

Luca explained that this project proves that possibilities outweigh limitations, and while watching the performance, “you forget you’re watching someone with disabilities.” For his piece this year, Luca collaborated with dancer Roya Hosini, nicknamed "Roya the DestRoya", to create a piece reflecting creatures and their relation to how society treats people with disabilities.

Looking forward, the dancers and producers of the event hope it continues to grow.

“I would love to see it continue, providing we can raise the necessary funding. I could see the event being produced on a smaller scale yearly, with the larger scale event potentially occurring every other year, and broadening nationally and internationally,” Morris said.

Look out in the coming years for A New Definition of Dance reaching more states and going outside the US, making the Tampa Bay dance community proud!

A New Definition of Dance

Friday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

USF Music Concert Hall

Reserve your spot here

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