A new dance performance in Miami will take the influence of LGBTQ ballroom culture onto the stage.
“Vogue Extravaganza” pays homage to the ballroom scene that originated in New York, an underground subculture created by and for black and Latino gay and gender non-conforming young people.
Florida has a growing ballroom community that spans from Tallahassee to Miami. Miami-based dancer and choreographer Randolph Ward says he really wanted to represent the artistry that happens at a ball—the choreography, drag artists and lyrical prowess of commentators—for a theater audience.
Below, Ward explains more about the show and his love for ballroom. Alexander Martinez, a dancer, and Tabu, a popular ballroom commentator, also provide comments.
Randolph Ward, dancer and choreographer
The ballroom scene, they're taking control of their lives saying, "OK, I can't exist here comfortably. I'm going to create my own world where I can exist and express myself how I want to."
The ballroom scene is mixed up with houses and these houses they compete against each other in different categories. And what calls to me is the creativity.
There is vogue dancing, there is runway fashion, drag artists.
My whole life I was a classical ballet dancer [and] went more into contemporary work.
Voguing is a real style of dance, so we have to have even more form than someone who's doing a "Swan Lake" or "Giselle," who they automatically get that respect and credit just because of what they're doing.
I'm just allowing people to see another point of view and yet another story because sometimes in the theatre I've noticed that the stories are always told the same and also told by the same people.
Alexander Martinez, dancer and member of the House of Lords
I am representing the big boy community in the LGBTQ. A lot of people have misconceptions that because I am a person of weight that I can’t dance. Big boys can move. I may be heavy, but I move like spaghetti.
I’m also a house member of the House of Lords, so I get to represent my house in this piece.
Nothing scares me more than walking onto a ballroom floor. I’ve competed in dance competitions, I’ve performed at the Super Bowl in 2010 here in Miami, nothing compares to that ballroom scene.
I’m excited to represent my LGBTQ community, my big boy plus community, my black African-Latino, everything.
For me dance has always been my gateway to my sanity. It’s been my therapy all of these years.
Tabu, ballroom MC, commentator
I am a part of the House of Revlon and I do walk in multiple categories.
I'm most well-known for female figure performance, which is like a drag kind of category and commentating.
They call me "The voice of Florida."
Each respective region you always have a person there who's known for, you know, being on the mic. Generally that's the idea. Some areas aren't as lucky as other areas, but Florida has me.
It's kind of like an MC battle, but you use the sport of commentating. You basically battle a person. I've become known for winning.
I actually like to incorporate poetry and things that go on inside the ballroom scene that I see, things that happen in my life.
I like the cultural aspect of ballroom and I feel like ballroom has a history to it.
That's what makes it so special. I feel like as commentators we're like the storytellers of the ballroom scene and we hold the history. We're like the griots.
If You Go
8 p.m. Friday (March 1)
Cost: $20, eventbrite.com
Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 N.E. 59th Terrace