The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

Artburst Portal

The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..

That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..

The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..

Miami’s venerable M Ensemble is a company that sometimes dips into its rich history to mount fresh productions of past shows. For its second production in its versatile new home at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, the troupe is revisiting Darren Canady’s “Brothers of the Dust.” Winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the ..

“El cuento de Rene,” actor and director Larry Villanueva’s adaptation of Cuban writer Rene Ariza’s short stories into a work of theater, is more than an homage. It’s a statement on oppression. Ariza was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to send manuscripts abroad. He was banned from creating theater in Cuba and condemned as “counter-revolutionary.” Ariza served five years of h..

Those who attend film festivals aren't looking for the mainstream, Cineplex offerings. That isn't the goal. Amid the indie films, the foreign entries, documentaries, and the world premieres, there's another reason to canvass the program for something you might not see anywhere else. Given the Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival to be produced by a college or university..

{This interview was conducted before the film making team went on to amazing Oscar success.} Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins are nine miles away from the Liberty City housing projects where they both grew up, but they are worlds away. They are at the picturesque Standard Hotel to talk about the new movie "Moonlight," with a screenplay by Jenkins base..

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “García Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.” The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in i..

Cuban Gold: Contemporary Dance Company Malpaso Debuts at Arsht


Photo: Photo by Nir Arieli
Article Rating

Myth has it that a Cuban who doesn’t dance is a rare creature. Like the endangered Florida panther, you could live an entire lifetime without ever sighting one. “We come from a dancing island,” explains Fernando Sáez, founder and executive director of Cuban contemporary dance company Malpaso. From Afro-Cuban ritual dances to classical ballet to cha cha cha, the island’s dance tradition is among the richest cultural treasures ever to emerge from the Caribbean.

With the Friday Arsht Center debut of Malpaso at the Knight Concert Hall, Miami is about to be showered with some of those riches. Through sold-out runs at New York’s Joyce Theater and rave reviews for performances at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, this young company has already shown United States audiences that they are to ordinary movement what 18-karat gold is to dross.

Malpaso started as a leap of faith. Four years ago, dancers Osnel Delgado and Dailedys Carrazana quit soloist positions at the island’s oldest and most prominent modern dance company, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, to carve their own path. Their friends worried, warning them that the move was a misstep, a malpaso, which could cost them valuable years of their budding careers. Delgado and Carrazana left anyway, anxious to see their own artistic visions flourish in a way that they could not in that hierarchical, state-sponsored bastion of their art form.

After two years of freelancing, the two joined forces with Sáez to create Malpaso, a new and inclusive voice in the dance world that unites choreographers, dancers and creative ideas from around the world with their Cuban counterparts. Linda Shelton, executive director of the Joyce, which has been involved with Malpaso since its inception, noted that leaving the security of Danza Contemporánea took guts: “[Delgado and Carranza] were with a company that worked all the time, that was supported by the state, and they were giving all of that up to start their own, to show their own voice.”

They found a home base for rehearsals, classes and community performances at the Jewish Sephardic Center in the Vedado neighborhood. The director offered them underutilized theater space at the center in exchange for creating opportunities for neighbors to become more involved in the arts through talk-backs and intimate performances there. This spirit of community involvement, said Sáez, is in keeping with the company’s core philosophy that all members should be equal participants in all aspects of the group’s operations, “from cleaning the floors when we arrive at the studios in the morning to fundraising and marketing.”

In addition to finding their own funding, Shelton noted that challenges for dancers in Cuba are different than they are here. “I have brought down so many rolls of gaffer’s tape because they just don’t have that, to glue together the floor,” she said. “The material for costumes, their shoes…they don’t have any of that, so it has to be brought to them…. But on the other hand, you know, you’re a dancer, that’s like being a doctor in Cuba, it’s so well respected. We just don’t have that.”

Malpaso’s growth has been nothing short of meteoric. In 2014, they performed gratisfor friends, family and dance aficionados at Wynwood’s 200-seat Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. The leap to the 2,200-seat Knight Concert Hall is a ballsy move; modern dance is notoriously a hard sell in Miami. But just as a Cuban without cojones is nearly as rare as one with two left feet, no one should be too surprised at both the company’s and the Arsht Center’s bravura. Surely Malpaso, with its fluid, sexy athleticism, can put the lie to the old saw that contemporary dance is too cerebral to actually be fun to watch.

These dancers’ gorgeous and glorious movement is all loose limbs and soaring extensions that sweep in high arcs over one another’s heads. The company’s 10 members are mostly classically trained in Cuba’s premiere national dance schools. Shelton says, “They do have this very basic ballet training, which to me means that they can do anything. I would compare them to the level, in a way, of an Ailey dancer. They can do anything that’s put in front of them.” She noted that the two troupes share a common work ethic, in addition to “really strong, strong training. They dance like they mean it.”

Sáez also noted that their basis in classical ballet makes them “ready to change gears” to adapt to the styles of prominent choreographers from the United States who are itching to come work with them in the Havana. Those choreographers have already included Ronald K. Brown and Trey McIntyre, both of whose work, in addition to Osnel Delgado’s, will be seen at the Arsht on Friday.

Shelton noted that the troupe’s reception in New York has been fabulous. “The word of mouth about how good the dancers are and the great show they put on, I think that gets out,” she says. Still, this is Miami, and the Arsht is a big hall. “It’s risky,” says Shelton.

But risk is in Malpaso’s DNA and, as Sáez points out, “Music and dance… are essential to the Cuban culture.” And that’s as true on one side of the Florida Straits as another. Bring it.

Malpaso, Friday Jan. 6, at 8:00 p.m., Knight Concert Hall, Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.; tickets $35-$95; free workshop at 7:00 p.m., Peacock Education Center at Arsht; www.arshtcenter.org.

 


Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

This year’s TransAtlantic Festival features local dance music stars, a Malian guitarist known as “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” and something unique: a Haitian rara band comprised entirely of women...

If the political movement that saw its birth after the November elections is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender f..

In a combo that promises to be both sublime and rip-roaring, three generations of Cuban and Cuban diaspora musicians come together this Saturday at The Miami-Dade County Auditorium to celebra..

Despite an end to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy and other changes in the Florida-Cuba dynamic, Global Cuba Fest 2017 will continue to satiate the souls of South Floridians with a month-long..

Guitarist, composer and producer Josemi Carmona embodies the spirit of Nuevo Flamenco. Rooted firmly in tradition, he has proven a restless, curious artist, ignoring the boundaries of genres ..

Following an intense National YoungArts Week, the signature program held annually in Miami, YoungArts is proud to announce their 2017 regional programs that will expand the offerings from New..

Seduced by the jazz in his dad’s music collection, a kid from Perth, Western Australia, takes up the saxophone at age 13. He grows up, moves to the United States and becomes a star. Dreams do..

Half way through his set at the North Beach Bandshell, singerDavid Crosby (http://www.davidcrosby.com/), 75, who has been to a festival or two in his illustrious career, paused between songs..

Florida in February has its own magic: gorgeous light, cooler temperatures, clear skies and soft sea breezes. Now, imagine those breezes carrying the moaning strains of Esperanza Spalding’s b..

No hay que viajar a otro país para disfrutar en vivo de la música cubana del momento, la más innovadora, la que le da la vuelta al mundo. Basta con asistir a Global Cuba Fest, aquí mismo, en ..

Nadie como el bailarín y coreógrafo español Antonio Gades para describir el arte que lo hizo internacionalmente famoso cuando vivía: “Un extracto de fuego y de veneno, eso es el flamenco”. ..

Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..

En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..

En su discurso de recibimiento del Premio Nobel, el poeta chileno Pablo Neruda afirmó que el poeta no es un "pequeño dios." De hecho expresó que el mejor poeta “es el hombre que nos entrega e..

En la cultura yoruba, y sobre todo en sus manifestaciones caribeñas como la afrocubana, las historias contadas oralmente por generaciones ocupan un lugar esencial. Esas historias, muchas de e..

En la serie artística Out in the Tropics, la tarima no discrimina, la sensibilidad de los intérpretes es inclusiva y todo público es bienvenido. Producción de la entidad local sin fines d..

El flamenco es una música de fusión. La tradición es de sobrevivencia, de cambio constante y adaptación al lugar y los tiempos. Mientras el sonido puede ser diferente, el espíritu de Nuevo Fl..

La problemática del cambio climático está que arde. Sobre todo en un estado como la Florida, en primera fila para sufrir consecuencias drásticas. Llegar al público con este mensaje e inspirar..