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One of the centerpieces of this year’s Art Week is not a static art work, and it is also one of the most sensuous and disorienting. Lebanese performance artist Tania El Khoury is producing her “Gardens Speak” for the week, courtesy of MDC Live Arts, a piece that has been applauded in cultural capitals throughout Europe and the United States. “It is a work,” she says, “that can only co..
Since its founding in 1996, City Theatre has been an important part of South Florida’s theatrical landscape, though the company’s visibility has always been highest in the month of June. That’s when its popular Summer Shorts festival takes place; for more than a decade, its high-profile venue has been the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center. Though the company founded by S..
If you were to predict who might become a nationally famous – OK, world-famous – multiplatform sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer would probably not be your first choice. Born in Germany in 1928 as Karola Ruth Siegel, the 4’7” Dr. Ruth seems more like the doting Jewish grandmother she is than a woman who used her nationally syndicated radio show, TV shows and 40-some books to help hun..
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, ..
In one duet, two dancers use their bodies as counterweights, springing forth from each other’s bodies with explosive power. In another, dancers form a sharp line before torsos undulate and fall one by one to the ground, a solitary figure left standing among the fallen. So goes Dance Now!’s latest work, “Bridges Not Walls,” a statement about the powerof art to make change, at a time when art and progress are under siege. It will be premiered at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center this Friday.
For the 17-year-old dance company, now based in Little Haiti, the idea for the work was born from a cultural exchange project with a dance company in Mexico, long before current politics made wall-building part of the daily vernacular. The project was an exploration not of the physical divides, but what in us as people causes divisions. As Hannah Baumgarten, one of Dance Now!’s cofounders explains: “Ultimately what we decided is that identity is what we define ourselves with. And the question of who we are is what creates our personal boundaries and personal walls around us. If we change the question, can we bridge those walls? Can we find a commonality as humans? So this is our goal as a piece of choreography. This is our goal as choreographic collaborators on this project.”
It is a project not based solely on movement, as it also delves deeply into an understanding of human nature and human evolution. “We started talking about, what walls do we all build as humans to protect ourselves?” Baumgarten says. “We … try to understand looking at genetic studies and understanding that human beings have a natural instinct not to have their genes stomped out -- and how dominant genes do trump recessive genes. There’s an instinctive fear of the other that is primordial and is probably how the Neanderthals lost their place as the dominant species.
“We’re talking about ancient feelings that we’re able to now voice and translate and manifest, sometimes in an unpleasant human expression. But we try to sort of breach the subject … that being afraid of the other, being afraid of the different, we should not look at that as a bad thing. We should just look at it as something that we’re powerless over. What we have power to do is try to have empathy and understand our common humanity.”
Dance also allows Baumgarten to tell that story of common humanity in a way that is unique to the art form. “You can never escape the humanity of [dance], because it is the human body in motion. It’s impossible to have dance without having humans.”
Dance Now! Presents Contemporanea, including the world premiere of "Bridges not Walls" and an encore presentation of "Ritmo Jondo;"Friday, 8:30 p.m.; Aventura Arts & Cultural Center,3385 N.E. 188 St., Aventura; tickets: $35; 877-311-7469.
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