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Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.” As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duart..

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog” in 2002. But as Zoetic Stage’s superb new production of the play at Miami’s Arsht Center demonstrates, her funny, shocking tale of two brothers struggling to survive is as potent today as it was 15 years ago. Maybe more so, given the country’s deepening divide. Parks’ harrowing drama examines the complex relation..

We are born. We live, have families, grow old. We die, leaving those who loved us to mourn. Playwright Thornton Wilder brilliantly captured the eternal verities of our journey through life in “Our Town,” his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life, love and death in a small New Hampshire town at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re at all drawn to theater, you’ve probably ..

“Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana” written by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Tamilla Woodard, and produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company, is a site-specific, immersive theater experience that interweaves narrative, performance, history and architecture. Nine short plays take place in nine hotel rooms on the second floor of the Tower Hotel, right off Calle Ocho on Seventh Street. Sanchez, ..

Artistic director and founder of Juggerknot Theatre Company, Tanya Bravo, had her first brush with immersive theater in New York City when she met director Tamilla Woodard. Working on the play “Broken City,” Bravo and other actors led audience members on a theatrical journey through the streets of the Lower East Side. “I was so blown away by the concept and the lines that were crossed between ..

We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..

Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..

Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..

Ayikodans Intersects the Personal, Political with New Work


Photo: Photo credit: Ronan Lietar
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Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alongside more contemporary styles of movement and music. He isn’t afraid to throw in some Tchaikovsky or Ravel.

His company Ayikodans annually premieres new work at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and Miami has become a kind of home base for the company. This year, their sixth season in Miami, Ayikodans returns with two new world premieres, Rencontres and Initiation.

Jumping into the political conversation about gay rights, Rencontres is inspired by struggles he observed in Haiti. It features a male duet plus a solo piece by emerging choreographer Johnnoiry Saint Philippe. The other, Initiation, is a creative take on a vodoun initiation with Ogun, the god of iron and fire.

We spoke with Saintus as he was preparing for the company’s trip to Miami, to learn more about his perspective on the art and politics of the moment.

Ayikodans has just returned from traveling abroad, right?

Yes, we came back from two trips recently. We went to Sweden for a dance exchange on how we work as contemporary choreographers, using inspiration from the traditional dances and the reality of Haiti. And also we went to French Guyana for a dance festival they’ve been organizing for the past 20 years.

What is your creative edge right now?

My artistic development is based on all the things I’m seeing and experiencing in my everyday life. Last week, I was thinking about everything happening in the United States. The U.S. is super powerful for everybody in the world. And for us in Haiti, even though we used to be a French colony, the United States is an example. Sometimes you live the American dream even in Port-au-Prince. That’s why you have all those Haitians in Miami and everywhere.

As an artist, it’s natural to respond to current events.

I think my work will always be somehow political. Like Rencontres. Three or four months ago, a festival was planned to talk about gay pride. I was kind of shocked to see how people reacted, they had to cancel the festival. People were talking about gay pride, we are not ready, let them do this in their country, Haiti is not ready. And people are starving on the street, kids cannot go to school. It would be lovely if the politicians could invest in having all these kids going to school instead of paying attention to others’ private lives. So Rencontres was inspired in part by this. When you put the duet with two men on stage, coming from a country like Haiti or now in the United States of America, it will be political.

How do you see your role as an artist?

What I’ve been doing for the past 30 years, [is] trying to change people’s lives. The ones who don’t have access to dance, I try to go to them through my dance project Danspyenu, telling the young dancers or young artists approaching me, you have the right to dream and miracles are still possible.

I know that I cannot change the world. I am not very powerful and I don’t have the money to do it. You also become realistic. But I will still try to play my role and fight as a dance activist.

Ayikodans, Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m., with Saturday matinee, 2:00 p.m.; Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; tickets: $40; 305-949-6722, www.arshtcenter.org.

 


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About The writer

Cathering Hollingsworth is a dance critic and dancer

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About the Writer

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