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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..

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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..

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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