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DANCE: Deaf dance troupe debuts at Little Rock community center

by WERNER TRIESCHMANN SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | October 24, 2019 at 1:49 a.m. | Updated October 24, 2019 at 1:49 a.m.
Brandy Mimms is the dancer also known as Unique who has started a deaf dance troupe in Little Rock. The troupe will hold its first dance concert Saturday at Southwest Community Center on Baseline Road. Special to the Democrat-Gazette

The instinct for a plucky artist to ignore conventional avenues and to wander in the world of performance as an independent — "Hey kids, let's put on show!" — is probably as old as performance itself.

For dancer Brandy Mimms, it's a reality. Listen With Your Eyes Dance Troupe, the modern dance company she founded and directs, will have its debut performance titled "Au Courant" at 7 p.m. Saturday in Little Rock's Southwest Community Center.

“Au Courant”

Listen With Your Eyes Dance Troupe

Saturday, 7 p.m., Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road, Little Rock

Tickets: $15 general admission, free for children 12 and under, available online through Event Brite via https://tinyurl.com/y4p9kt68.

"What I am hoping to accomplish with this dance troupe is to bring more dance performances and deaf awareness to deaf and hearing communities in Arkansas and out-of-state," Mimms says in an email interview. "There are not enough dance opportunities here in Arkansas for dancers like myself without having to move [away]. I want to provide a foundation for the dancers to build more experiences for their future dance career."

Born and reared in New Orleans, Mimms, 40, is a recent graduate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She says she is the first deaf student to receive a bachelor of fine arts in dance from UALR.

"I have always seen dancing on TV while growing up. But in 2016, a friend of mine tagged me on this video of a black man who was dancing but also deaf," Mimms says. "I was so surprised to see there was another deaf dancer in the world. His name is Antoine Hunter, and he is well-known and the founder of the Urban Jazz Dance Company in San Francisco."

Mimms was invited by Hunter to San Francisco. She took the opportunity and attended the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival. This trip served as an eye-opening experience as well as a model for Mimms to follow.

"I had the opportunity to meet many different deaf dancers from over the world," Mimms says. "After that experience, I came back home to Little Rock more inspired to become a better deaf dancer. Since then, I have been back to San Francisco every year to be a part of the Deaf Dance Festival."

Mimms' troupe has four members — Ronesha Butler, Alexandreia Tolbert, Shalondra Martin and Jaime Smith.

"Au Courant" will include a piece created by Mimms. She notes that she "likes to create pieces that tell stories or provide awareness about social change." There will be solos created by three members of the dance troupe.

"Through this company, we will bring dance performances to deaf and hearing communities by breaking language barriers between both communities and demonstrate how American Sign Language can help communication in the world," Mimms says.

Though "Au Courant" is the first time out of the gate for Mimms' group, she does not intend for it to be the last.

"This is not just a one-time dance performance," Mimms says. "I am starting this business with very little/no funding. I figure I can build something more once people learn about my troupe."

Weekend on 10/24/2019

Print Headline: Deaf dance troupe debuts at LR show

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