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Miami’s Amanda Tae gives back through Mosaic Dance Project

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

Miami’s Amanda Tae has done it all, and she has now decided that it is her time to give back to her community through Mosaic Dance Project, a new professional dance company dedicated to developing Miami’s dance community through outreach, education, and professional opportunities for dance.

Dancing since the age of three, Ms. Tae attended New World School of the Arts High School, received a BA at FSU in Sports Management, and then opened Focal Point Dance Studios in 2005 and Tae Talent Agency in 2007. A renowned teacher and choreographer in local, national, and international settings, her skills have led her to work with the likes of Nike, Will Smith, Enrique Iglesias, Universal Records, and many others while her students and clients have gone on to lead high profile careers in both concert and commercial dance scenes.

Dance Informa sits down with the influential Ms. Tae to discuss her latest work with Mosaic Dance Project.

Tell us a little bit about what Mosaic Dance Project does.

“Mosaic Dance Project is a professional dance company which will perform both locally, nationally, and internationally, exposing its audience to Miami’s cultural mosaic. Our resident choreographer, Kiki Lucas, comes to MDP from The Houston Metropolitan Dance Center where she was the resident choreographer and senior dancer from 2005-2015. Our board consists of lawyers, community entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and individuals who have supported the arts for many years. In order for us to exemplify Miami’s diverse culture, our dancers will teach classes in Miami’s various communities with the goal of not only to sharing their knowledge, but absorbing as much as possible from their students. They will then apply that knowledge to the future of Mosaic Dance Project. Aside from these community outreach classes, Mosaic will also provide evening classes for teens and adults within its own walls. In addition to these endeavors, Mosaic Dance Project will host an annual scholarship competition that will furnish it’s winners with scholarships to study at local and national schools.”

Mosaic Dance Project

A dancer from Amanda Tae’s Mosaic Dance Project. Photo by Dave McMahan.

What lead to your decision to create Mosaic Dance Project?

“While I am proud of what I have achieved through dance and humbled by what dance has given me, there is still so much more to be done.  Considering the ever-growing fan base for shows such as So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with The Stars, it is clear that dance is on TV because people love watching it. Why not bring that quality of dance to local theaters through a city based company – something Miami can be proud of and that can increase tourism in the future? The dance industry has been outsourcing Miami’s raw talent for years and it is time that we create opportunities here in Miami for local talent.

On a more local level, the growth of community interest in the arts is beneficial to all members of the community artistic and otherwise. There is such a wonderful possibility for synergy and collaboration i.e. using local musicians for an original score, incorporating projected art from local artists, using local dancers to create school dance programs and community outreach performances – All this to help build and reinforce Miami’s artists’ sense of community while funding our scholarship and community programs to bring arts to the places where they’re needed most. Our goal is to increase community awareness and participation in the parts with the possibility of one day beginning Miami’s own dance festival.”

What can you tell me about your mission in the context of the economic climate in your community? What populations or needs are you hoping to serve?

“We hope to create jobs within Miami not only for dancers, but all artists and individuals interested in working with the arts. This company is going to be providing consistent job opportunities for dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, sound techs, event coordinators, administrative jobs, and media and marketing jobs, just to name a few. The communities that we prioritize most highly are those which are most lacking in community funding and involvement in the arts. It is these communities in which Mosaic Dance Project will begin its initial programs. Increasing community awareness of the arts by our creation of job opportunities for local artists will provide the people of Miami with a real-time measure of exactly how the arts are improving their communities over time.”

Mosaic Dance Project

Dancers from Amanda Tae’s Mosaic Dance Project. Photo by Dave McMahan.

Why are the arts, particularly dance, important at the community level?

“Being a dance teacher of 18 years and having owned a dance studio for 10, it is evident to me that dance engenders such positive personality traits as discipline, responsibility, depth of character, and expression which can all be applied to any aspect of life. I have watched my students flourish not only in the dance community, but in their college careers and business pursuits. Additionally, the arts connect all of us – whether we feel passionate about creating and being a part of them, or if they cause us to feel passion when we experience them. It is my desire that everyone has the opportunity to be as much a part of the arts, their creation or observation, as they wish.”

What’s next on the horizon for Mosaic? Any upcoming projects/events that you are excited about?

“At this point, we are most excited about our MDP Company Auditions on February 17. They will be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, Florida 33132) in the Peacock Foundation Studio. Registration is at 4pm, auditions begin at 4:30pm. Once we have chosen the company dancers for our inaugural year, we will begin rehearsal for our first company performance in the Fall of 2015 in addition to our scholarship competition.”

For any questions about Mosaic Dance Project and the upcoming auditions, email mosaicdanceproject@gmail.com.

Photo (top): Mosaic Dance Project Dancers. Photo by Dave McMahan.

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Talented Tovaris

Miami raised and now LA based, Tovaris Wilson is a star of stage, film, television and video. Tovaris has performed several times on the Annual Academy Awards programs and can be seen in commercials for Pepsi, Sun Microsystems, and Rubbermaid products. Tovaris has appeared in music videos for Britney Spears, Cher, Prince, Macy Gray, Blink 182, and Will Smith, as well as the feature films Austin Powers II and III.

In early 2000, with a successful commercial dance career established, Tovaris chose to focus on developing his own style and made the transition to choreography full-time. Tovaris choreographed for Janet Jackson’s All For You tour, and soon after was commissioned to choreograph for Britney Spears, Macy Gray, Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, MTV and the 2006 Pussycat Doll Tour. Tovaris is also an in demand teacher, teaching dance students in Japan, New York, Miami and Los Angeles, with a strong following of students at LA’s Edge Performing Arts Center.

When did you start dancing and why?

I took my first dance class at the age of 3 and have danced from that day until now. I was hooked from that moment. My parents recognized a talent in me and they have always nurtured it. When my mom was a young girl she was a performer. She sang and danced in shows. She had the opportunity to be in a commercial and because my Grandmother didn’t understand the world of the arts, it was something that was not supported.  My mother says she made a vow that if her kids ever showed interest in the arts, she would do everything in her power to encourage and support it.

What was the first professional job you ever booked and what was your experience of it?

I had some amazing opportunities as a young working dancer. At the age of 10 I compete and won Jr. Star Search. I also acted on an episode of Miami Vice. The first real dance experience I had was dancing on The Academy Awards.  It was so memorable because, firstly, I got the opportunity to work with my dance idol Debbie Allen.  Secondly, the feeling of performing on stage in front of Hollywood’s greatest actors gave me the chills! I was on an amazing adrenaline rush and I will never forget it!

What is you fondest memory as a dancer?

I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities, but I would have to say my fondest memories are from the two times I was able to tour the country with an artist. The first time was with Cher, and the second was with Britney Spears.  What I love about touring the world is learning about all the different cultures and just being able to see the world.  Also there is a special bond that you form among the cast and crew. It feels like a real family. In addition, every night you get to support an amazing artist as they entertain the several thousand fans who show up.  The energy you experience performing in an arena is second to none.

How and why did you transition into choreography?

I transitioned into choreography through teaching.  It is a very natural transition because I found that teaching allowed me a platform to hone my style.  Having to make up choreography every week for class forced me to be creative and focused.  I was also able to practice teaching my work to others. I feel that many people underestimate the ability it takes to translate your vision onto the body of someone else. I love creating movement and I love the challenge of pleasing the client.

What is your favorite experience as a choreographer so far?

Hands down my favorite experience as a choreographer was getting the opportunity to choreograph for Janet Jackson.  I can remember sitting in front of the television watching her music videos.  I would learn all the steps and perform them for my family.  The one dream I had was to one day dance with Janet. Not only did I get that opportunity, but I was selected to choreograph the opening number in her All For You world tour.  It was a real pinch myself moment, and definitely the highlight of my career.

What is up next for you as an artist?

I am still focused on furthering my career as a choreographer. There are still some things I would like to accomplish. I would love to choreograph a film.  Outside of continuing to choreograph and teach, I am interested in producing projects for dancers.  I have formed a production company with some friends called Less Is More Entertainment. We want to focus on projects that elevate dance and the choreographer. So many times choreographers are in the shadows; the puppeteers behind the magic. We want to shine the light on them and show the world the creativity it takes to be a masterful choreographer.  

I also just started a clothing line for dancers called L.I.T.E. It is an acronym for Life In The Eights. 8 is the number we use in dance to signify the start of a new phrase of movement.  

I am so excited for the future of dance and I always want to be a part of it!

See Tovaris’ magic at The Nvitational in LA, July 29-August 14. For more information click here

Tovaris Wilson is represented by The Movement / A Dance Management Company and MSA.
www.MovementMGMT.com www.MSAAgency.com

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