Grads dance with Boston Co.

Grads dance with Boston Co.

By Elizabeth Mainardi

Melissa Buffer and Lucas Legere are physical therapists who know how to move.

The two graduate students spend much of their free time with the Boston-based dance company, Rainbow Tribe.

Founded in 1992, it is a group of professional volunteer dancers who give their time to better the community and spread ideas about diversity and acceptance, said Mary Perry, director of the company.

“Rainbow Tribe’s mission is to use dance as a medium to educate the public on the importance of embracing diversity,” Perry said.

Buffer and Legere’s involvement with Rainbow Tribe began in the nightclub scene.

“Lucas and I would always go clubbing,” Buffer said. “He could really move.”

With that discovery, the two signed up for a dance class at Impulse Dance Company in Boston.

As chance would have it, Rainbow Tribe had rehearsal in the studio immediately after Impulse finished their lessons.

Perry said she immediately noticed the duo.

“I was watching them at the end of class and they pulled my focus,” she said. “I really liked the way both of them moved.”

Although she has been dancing her entire life, Buffer has almost no ambition to make dance her career.

“I have a very practical way of thinking,” she said. “Dancing, in my experience, is not practical.”

Instead, she works in New York City and performs physical therapy on professional dancers.

“I’m really able to combine both my big passions in life, [by] doing physical therapy on dancers,” she said.

Buffer travels back and forth from New York City to perform and finish her final clinical.

She said her experience with her patients has only increased her appreciation for the dance company.

“Rainbow Tribe is amazing for me, personally because it is a professional company, but it’s not anything like my patients are doing,” she said. “I feel like a lot of those dancers have lost that butterfly feeling. I still get it. It’s inexplicable.”

Unlike Buffer, Legere had no previous experience when he tried out for Rainbow Tribe.

“I had never really danced before in my life, but I knew I wanted to perform,” Legere said. “Performing is my passion.”

It’s this passion that has made him successful, Perry said.

“There are a lot of members that blow me away, but Lucas in particular because he had no training,” Perry said. “He has made strides in his dance.”

Legere hopes to finish his master’s degree in physical therapy and then pursue a doctorate. He said he wants to work in a private practice, in outpatient orthopedics.

“Rainbow Tribe has me really focused toward one goal,” Legere said. “I know it sounds cheesy, but I just put everything I have into everything I do.”

Throughout school, work, and dancing, Legere and Buffer said they maintain a strong friendship.

“Lucas and Buffer are just hilarious,” said Cecile Oreste, the groups recruitment coordinator. “You can tell they really get along. It comes out when they’re dancing.”

Rainbow Tribe also presents one annual showcase concert, held this year from March 30 to April 1 at Roxbury Community College.

“It’s really incredible because we debut 12 to 13 new pieces at this concert,” Buffer said.

Rainbow Tribe contains a spectrum of different dancing levels, ages (20 to 48), ethnicities and cultures.

“We have men, women and even trans-gender. Black, white, Asian, Puerto Rican. … It just runs the gamut,” Perry said.

Tribe is also diverse in its type of dance.

“We’ve done pretty much a little bit of everything,” Buffer said.

The members present shows in street punk, modern jazz, hip-hop, ballet, lyrical and tap.

“Rainbow Tribe is the complete opposite of the normal, cookie-cutter dance company that people are used to seeing,” Perry said.

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