Become a Dancer in Three Easy Steps

Letters from the Issue of August 1, 2002

Pump some iron, add some silicone, climb into a cage: After reading Ashley Fantz's article about nightclub dancers ("Dancing for Dollars," July 25), I understand why the public in general has such a misconception of dancers. I am a dancer and belong to one of the top-ten best companies in the U.S., according to Dance Spirit magazine research. And we're right here in Miami, a company more than a decade old of 33 professional dancers who work all year long and have done shows, performances, music videos, television events, and so forth all over the United States and abroad.

I was appalled that go-go, cage, and bar entertainers were called dancers. They might like to think they are, but they're not. Those of us who are real dancers have dedicated our lives to perfecting techniques and styles, practicing every day. Dancers are trained professionals, just like athletes, who have very difficult schedules and make lots of personal sacrifices.


In our world, Hot Jam founder Pamela Canellas is a joke. These are the people who have prostituted our profession, and in doing so have hurt our image and reputation. It takes more than a few hours at your local gym and a visit to a plastic surgeon to call yourself a dancer.

Personally I don't have anything against what they do or how they go about it. I have a problem with what they call themselves and how the public is misled.

Ophelia Kawko

New Century Dance Company


So This Dancer Walks into a Bar...

I may be from Ohio but I know trash when I see it: Is Ashley Fantz kidding us? I believe the quote from her story was: "We are real dancers. We put on a real show. Anyone who sees us knows that." I've seen these girls perform. I may be an out-of-towner but I didn't see dancing or a show. I saw trashy girls in trashy clothing shaking tits and ass. They have no idea what real dancing is.

As a classical dancer of seventeen years I am offended at the thought of being put in the same category as these quasi-strippers.

Tonya C. Davis

Lorain, Ohio

Allow Me to Explain the Race Issue

It's not about bigotry, it's about crime: Kathy Glasgow's story about Hialeah Gardens ("The Hialeah Gardens 'Darkie' Problem," July 25) was just another predictable, politically correct piece regarding blacks being picked on. At least we now include Hispanics in the equation as they join forces with non-Hispanic whites in a massive conspiracy to hold down blacks. Sure.

Will the real issue ever be addressed? I am positive former Mayor Gilda Oliveros did not want large numbers of blacks wandering into Hialeah Gardens. The people of Miami Beach do not want large numbers of blacks either, particularly during the yearly black beach party. Is this racist or is it based on the statistical fact that blacks are far more likely to commit crimes than other racial groups? It is obviously the latter.

This situation will never change until blacks reduce crime substantially in their own communities (where they are also most likely to be victims of crime). If the weekly Soul Night skating event in Hialeah Gardens catered to, say, Asians, do you think the mayor would have made it an issue? Of course not. It is far easier to talk about alleged discrimination than to address an epidemic of black crime, bad schools, and criminal hip-hop culture. Please, whites cannot even go into many areas of Miami-Dade without getting killed, and everyone knows it. Why no big articles about that?

The unfortunate response in Hialeah Gardens and countless other places is the result of the anticipated unruliness of black crowds. Some of this anticipation is exaggerated, but much is based on statistical facts and experience. Why run from this issue all the time?

I would love to know in what all-black areas New Times writers live. Or is it yet another case of people lecturing others while somehow making sure not to actually live with blacks in any real numbers or send their kids to predominantly black schools. It is because of this double standard that nothing truly gets accomplished regarding the race issue.

Bob Macron

Brooklyn, New York

The Everglades: 50 Years of Blunders

We're working hard, but fixing it will take time: This is in response to Mike Clary's article "God's Eye on the Sparrow" (July 18). We commend New Times for in-depth coverage of this issue.

The Cape Sable seaside sparrow is a classic "indicator species" for the health of the overall Everglades system. In 1989 Congress recognized flaws in the current water-management system in South Florida and authorized an expansion of Everglades National Park to include the northeast Shark River Slough. This was not done just for the sparrow but rather to correct past mistakes in failing to protect this critical area, an area vital to restoring the biological abundance and diversity for which the park was established and for which it is internationally renowned.

We are nearing the completion of acquisition of the lands authorized by Congress to be protected as part of the park. More than 50 years of the current water-management system have artificially driven water to the west, through a set of four large gates. This has dramatically changed water levels in the far western Shark Slough and, in the process, done harm to the sparrow population living there. In addition, by keeping the eastern area dry, suitable habitat for the sparrow, as well as wood storks, snail kites, and various wading birds has also been compromised. The 1989 Act recognized that mistake and provides a remedy.

Some see this issue as a sacrifice of other interests to an "uncharismatic species." In truth fixing the mistakes of an ill-conceived and outdated water-management system can allow people to live in balance with a restored Everglades, which would surely be poorer if we lost the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. A number of ongoing restoration projects, including the massive $7.8 billion comprehensive restoration plan, are attempting to reach this goal. Actions taken to protect the sparrow are not in any way impeding these goals. In fact, what's good for the sparrow is good for Everglades restoration. I believe that our fates are tied together.

Maureen Finnerty, superintendent

Everglades National Park


Birth of a Politician

Don't say I didn't warn you about Joe Arriola: I was very impressed with the letters concerning Joe Arriola, who resigned as volunteer business manager of the Miami-Dade Public Schools following his criticism of superintendent Merrett Stierheim. I was also impressed with the letter Arriola himself wrote, which was titled "Free Weekly Twists Truth, Aspires to Tabloid Status" (July 18). I have known of Arriola for about ten years. I am too small a person for him to know me, though. I have no political or monetary clout. In other words, I cannot benefit him or his ego. I will say this, though: Arriola is one of the lowest forms of man I have encountered.

Years ago, while at a Catholic concert at a South Miami Catholic church, Arriola walked through a barricaded line set up to protect the sound equipment. When the young sound engineer confronted Arriola in the most respectful way to explain why the section was cordoned off, up jumped Arriola and said words to this effect: "Who are you to speak to me like that?" When other parishioners confronted him, he said the same thing. That says a lot about the holier-than-thou Arriola, who seems to get into many verbal altercations. Suffice to say he was not told to leave the concert.

I am not bashing Arriola as a businessman. He didn't become one of the nation's top Hispanic businessmen for nothing. His skills are plentiful. And no, he does not need monetary compensation. Avanti Press made Arriola tens of millions of dollars. Case-Hoyt made him millions more. So why does he try to defend himself as the caring citizen who gave up a paycheck? He worked for free. Sure. But what's better than money? Political power.

In an e-mail I sent Mr. Stierheim I warned of the ramifications of having such a person in his school district administration. In Mr. Stierheim's defense, he was probably doing what he considered to be in the schools' best interest.

In conclusion, this is not an "I told you so" letter to Mr. Stierheim. This is a warning to all voters in Miami-Dade County who stick by the words of such entities as the Latin Builders Association, certain Hispanic politicians, and the like. Arriola's reign is just beginning in the political field. He has the cash. He has the backing. But let's not give him the vote. Let's leave that up to the committees that place him on their boards, for example the state oversight board that is holding back a few dollars from our schools.

Forget the Republican-Democrat crap and let's realize we need to vote for what is best for the general public, not some wealthy businessmen.

Antonio Herrera


Don't Call Me a Rabble-Rouser

I'm irritated enough as it is: Referring to Kirk Nielsen's article about Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton ("Mission Man," July 11), I'd like to ask why New Times described a group of Allapattah activists as "rabble-rousers." This was in regard to the failed attempt to move the Camillus House homeless facility to an Allapattah neighborhood.

Why are we rabble-rousers? That's a pejorative term. People in other neighborhoods don't want any homeless institutions at all. We in Allapattah already have many institutions that cater to homeless people -- Beckham Hall, Better Way, and more. There is also a Camillus facility near us on NW Eighth Avenue. As taxpayers we only want to be treated with equality, respect, and dignity.

No, we're not rabble-rousers, just angry taxpayers.

Mariano Cruz


Just One Small Error

But of the worst sort: I enjoyed Jeff Stratton's story "A Tree, a House, a Sign" (July 4). One small problem, though: My name was spelled incorrectly.

Mitch Novick, chairman

Historic Preservation Board

City of Miami Beach


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