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Early on in the Argentinean film “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), which makes its U.S. theatrical debut this week, a deceptively quaint and humorous scene takes place between the film’s protagonist, 88-year-old Abraham Bursztein and his young granddaughter. The little girl refuses to join in a family photo with Abraham surrounded by his many grandchildren. When he cajoles and insists, ..

Gone are the days when filmmakers needed huge budgets, and major movie studios backing them with big bucks to get their films seen, according to two producers who spent decades in Los Angeles, and have now moved their base to Miami Beach. "From a creative standpoint, there are amazing opportunities for filmmakers today," says producer Kevin Chinoy, who, along with producing partner Frances..

Mark St. Germain has achieved ongoing success with small-cast plays involving historical figures in fictional scenarios, and South Florida has been as welcoming to his work as the rest of the country. St. Germain’s “Camping With Henry and Tom,” about a 1920s camping trip involving Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding, was produced in 1996 by New Theatre in Coral Gables..

Mexico City-based theater collective Teatro Ojo's works are constantly evolving. Nothing is ever really finished. That's because they take from every performance. Whatever the audience experiences, observes, feels, and offers feedback, which they highly encourage, all is used, considered, and included in the evolution of the same piece, or introduced into another new work. Two of the ..

“America’s Greatest and Least Known Playwright.”This is how the Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes is referred to several times throughout Michelle Memran’s documentary “The Rest I Make Up,” which makes its Florida debut this Saturday as part of Miami-Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. Fornes has been called the “Mother of Avant-Garde Theater.” Theater giants like Edward A..

“Once” has always been touched with magic. And as anyone who has seen the sublime new production of the show by Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables would tell you, the musical’s spellbinding pull is as powerful as ever. When Irish director-screenwriter John Carney first told the tale of a heartbroken Irish street musician and the spunky Czech pianist who reignites his passion, a 200..

Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

Brazzdance New Work Dances into Diversity and Beyond

Photo: Photo credit: Toddy Holland
Written by: Mia Leonin
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The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity through dance. The piece that premieres this Wednesday at the Gleason Room on Miami Beach began with a memory from Brazilian-born Soledade’s teenage experience as an exchange student in McFarland, Wisc. As one of only two people of color in the entire school, Soledade froze the day one of his school friends turned to him and asked, “What are you?”

“I remember that there were about three of us, just hanging out and talking outside the school,” Soledade recounts, “and one of them told a joke -- one of those offensive jokes about black people -- but right after the joke, maybe because I was not really laughing, he turned to me and asked, ‘What are you?’” This was the first time Soledade, who identifies as Afro-Brazilian/African-American, had been confronted with his racial and ethnic identity. “I couldn’t answer right away, and started to tell them about all the different ethnic groups in my family.”

That “what are you?” question was a jumping off place for Soledade’s newest creation. Using improvisation, he turned the question to the dancers in his company, Brazzdance, many of whom have had similar experiences.

One of the movement expressions Soledade utilizes for exploring and performing identity in “Shade” is “voguing,” a dance form that comes out of the 1980s’ Harlem ballroom dance scene. Voguing allows for highly stylized, unabashed expressions of self. Interestingly, Soledade likens voguing to contemporary culture’s obsession with selfies: “I felt that voguing and selfies were connected in that they both serve as a vehicle through which we can choose how to present ourselves to the world.”

Soledade incorporated a few elements of voguing in “Shade” – hand gestures, cat walk, duck walk, and floor performance – but his end goal was to find new ways of reinterpreting vogue and incorporating it into contemporary dance. He is also interested in moving beyond ethnicity and race to large expressions of identity: “I was born and raised in Brazil, but I have always been interested in the world and people around the world. I can sincerely say that when I am creating work I am always taking into consideration our shared humanities.”

Soledade discovered in the process of creating “Shade” how little control we have over so many aspects of our identity: “Many things about us are determined while we are still in the womb, the family you are born into, your physical traits, the place where you’re born, etc., so I start the piece referencing that quiet moment when we are in our mother’s womb. Kind of like the quiet before the storm.”

Always interested in collaboration Soledade, invited Jessica Muñiz-Collado, a music professor at Nova Southeastern University, to compose an original score for “Shade.” Visual artist Kandy Lopez has created a backdrop to represent the idea of unity within diversity.

Brazzdance presents“Shade,”Wednesday and Thursday, May 24, 25 at 8:30 p.m., the Gleason Room, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. General admission $25, Miami Beach residents $20, Students $15, Friday night VIP reception $50;; 786-338-5488.


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About The writer

Dance writer and theater critic, senior lecturer in English Composition, University of Miami

Mia Leonin is the author of two books of poetry, Braid and Unraveling the Bed (Anhinga Press), and the memoir, Havana and Other Missing Fathers (U..

About the Writer

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