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Mentoring Matters: Young Man Using Basketball Skills To Perform On Big Stage

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North Miami (CBSMiami) – It's a story about life, fears, consequences and time, and its being told through movement, spoken word and a basketball.

Acclaimed choreographer Pioneer Winter was commissioned by Miami Dade College Live Arts, to create a performance piece as part of its Live Arts Lab Alliance, and it fell into place somewhat unexpectedly, when his coworker showed him videos of her son, Izzi LieberPerson's basketball moves.

"My mom and dad were posting my basketball highlights on Facebook and stuff, and Pioneer saw and liked how I moved, basketball-wise," said Izzi.  "And I'm pretty sure he wanted to portray it in a dance kind of way."

This is Izzi's first professional performance and foray into dance and spoken word, one he says, "will look good on my resume."

The solo is called Dov, which means "baby bear" in Hebrew, and is also Izzy's middle name.

"Although Dov is Izzi's middle name, it also brings up a lot of ideas with regards to how we age," said Pioneer.  "A Dov, or a bear cub, when they're young, no one is afraid of them, but then when they get older, people start to fear them.  And human beings are sometimes the same way.  They maybe don't cause a lot of harm when they're young, but once they become an adult, sometimes they become someone to fear."

Among other themes, Dov explores Izzi's transition from 12 to 13 years old, using similarities between basketball and life.

"I see this piece as something that can only be done now," said Pioneer.  "Once he gets older, the piece will change.  It's only this moment where he's thinking the way he thinks, and he is able to express himself in this way."

Pioneer says he can empathize with Izzi, who faces a demanding schedule, waking up at 6 a.m. to go to basketball practice before school, and spending late nights rehearsing.

"All of the sudden, I have these rehearsals, and then I see a playbill with my face on it and a whole description of this performance that at first I didn't know about, but now I'm really excited to perform," said Izzi.

The experience is teaching him lessons about preparation, performance, grueling hours and goals, all skills Pioneer believes will carry off the basketball court and dance floor, and into every area of Izzi's life.

"Whether he becomes a basketball player or an actor, or moves in a completely opposite direction and becomes a chemist, I think his work ethic will translate into all those things," said Pioneer.  "He's very competitive, he works really hard, he can be incredibly focused when he wants to be."

The MDC Live Arts Show featuring Dov is February 7th and 8th at 8 p.m., at MDC Wolfson campus.  Tickets are $10.

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