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Getting into a true holiday spirit can be tough in South Florida, where palm trees, expansive beaches and balmy skies signal perpetual summer. Ever-earlier store décor and the incessant push to buy presents – more about commercialism than celebration – can make many of us feel more anxious than festive. Not to worry. Just squeeze in a trip to Miami’s Arsht Center, where City Theatre h..

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, ..

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: ..

Francisco Hidalgo Takes Flamenco Back to a Nobler Time


Photo: Photo by Generacion Asere
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Flamenco performer Francisco Hidalgo, whose surname means “nobleman,” brought a bygone era of dignity and grace to life on the stage of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in early November, in a collaboration with FUNDarte. Miami was the first stop on a multi-city U.S. tour of Los Silencios del Baile, Hildago’s full-length choreographic debut.

Hailing from a small pueblo blanco in the mountains of Cádiz, Spain, Hidalgo’s provenance is about as authentically traditional as one can get. And like a latter-day Don Quixote, this 31-year-old choreographer seems on a quest to restore flamenco to a more noble and chivalrous age, a time when male dancers with ramrod straight backs and quiet upper torsos were models of restrained power. This is not to say that he eschews all the trappings of modernity. Although much of his aesthetic is decidedly more retro, his spectacular technique is clearly a product of the 21st century. For his first solo, he wore a Chinese-style silk shirt, giving him the aspect of a Zen master and enhancing his broodingly mysterious onstage presence.

Hidalgo’s core is rock solid. This gives him an incredible axis and balance for turn, and he landed triple and quadruple pirouettes almost effortlessly. In his solo por soleares, he raised both arms slowly, circling his hands in gorgeous arcs, sometimes seeming to caress the very air with his fingers. While male dancers of the past would never have allowed themselves this liberty, seeing handwork as too feminine, today’s bailaores have incorporated it fully into their technique. His use of the hands lent Hidalgo’s dancing great expressive range. One could also appreciate the meticulous rehearsal that must have gone into perfecting every line and every moment; when he finished off a lightning speed footwork run with a kick to the back, looking like an Arabian thoroughbred, you felt his leg must always go up to that precise and perfect angle.

Hidalgo’s counterpart, dancer Rubén Puertas, also embraced an aspect of flamenco’s half-forgotten history when he donned a pair of castanets for his solo, a joyous and lively fandangos. Castanets, decades ago de riguer in flamenco performances, are often dismissed as “too classical” by today’s dancers. Puertas’ gorgeous and hugely entertaining solo showed that, played by a master, this most quintessentially Spanish of instruments has an important role in the flamenco repertory.

Like Hidalgo’s, Puertas’ technique is superb. He alternated between a lighter, joking side, sticking his behind out in an exaggerated arch at one point, and pure business, awing the audience with triple vuelta quebrada at another. Later, with a high jump in the air, both knees flexed and feet pointed under him, he landed in a deep lunge, torero-style, first to the left, then, springing up from the floor to lunge to the right. Caution: do not try this at home.

Bailaora Lucía de Miguel wowed the full house with her shawl work, but the choreography for her alegrías, while capably and stylishly danced, was less interesting than that of her male counterparts. The guitarist and singers were first rate, although a tuning problem during José Almarcha’s first guitar solo, “Amalgama,” was an unwelcome distraction and a glitch in the sound system gave singer Trini de la Isla’s a raspier sound than he comes by naturally. The younger Roberto Lorente’s voice provided a pleasing contrast to El Trini’s. Both have incredible rhythm and spot-on instincts when it comes to singing for dance.

With no theme or plot, Silencios del Baile was held together by its unity of tone –elegant, somewhat somber—and by Hidalgo’s talent for creating visually interesting onstage groupings and seamless entrances and exits that, without fanfare, took on a subtle drama of their own. And although the work’s title means “The Silences of the Dance,” Sunday afternoon’s audience was anything but silent, erupting in a long-standing ovation at the end of this beautiful and impeccably crafted program.

 


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