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..
Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..
“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..
Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..
Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..
The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..
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.
Yoli Mayor is a 22-year old Miami native who won over the judges of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” with her power voice (think Adele mixed with Etta James). This weekend, Miami audiences will h..
You might expect something a tad unusual from a jazz band comprised of Bulgarians and Cubans that’s led by the principal percussionist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. And that’s what you’ll ..
Not everybody who begins a musical career at age three singing in his grandfather’s Pentecostal Church finds his way to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Soloman Howard did in two short decades...
Singer-songwriter Tiago Iorc may have been one of Brazil’s best-kept secrets, but the word is getting out. Fresh from appearances in New York, Boston and Orlando, Iorc makes his South Flo..
Gustavo Matamoros’ beard has gone gray, but his passionate promotion of listening as a way of engaging the world remains fresh.Whether bats in the Everglades, shrimp in Biscayne Bay or the no..
Just about now, even as the unsuspecting may be lounging at the beach, classical music is thundering forth in Miami. Our town’s annual eight week Miami Music Festival has begun with its offer..
Talk of weddings can quickly split a friendly gathering into camps of pro and con. Those on the pro side retell the moment when the crying six-year-old ring bearer, stunned by the attention o..
What better way to welcome summer than with a burst of live music? Leave it to the French to come up with the idea. Since 1982, they’ve marked the summer solstice with free concerts and p..
Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade is as tiny as a house sparrow, with a voice as clean and pure as a bell. These delicate qualities belie a fierce inner strength and a steely artistic will. A..
Esta es una gran noticia para el público amante del ballet en Miami. Tras un paréntesis de diez años en los que solo nos visitó de manera esporádica, la Primera Bailarina mexicana Katia Carra..
Solo hay que aplicar el concepto “seis grados de separación” a uno de los artistas que se han presentado en las Galas de Estrellas del Festival Internacional de Ballet de Miami (IBFM por sus ..
El debut de Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) en noviembre del año pasado fué un acontecimiento artístico y un descubrimiento sumamente agradable. Una sola función en el Miami-Dade Cou..
El festival “Out in the Tropics”, patrocinado por Fundarte en conjunto con el Centro Cultural Español y el Miami Book Fair International, normalmente trae artistas del mundo LGBTQ e hispanoha..
La Gala anual de Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami (CCBM) es un evento que esperan con ansiedad los aficionados al ballet en Miami y, sobre todo, los admiradores del estilo cubano. Desde su deb..
El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..
Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..
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”. ..