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Early on in the Argentinean film “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), which makes its U.S. theatrical debut this week, a deceptively quaint and humorous scene takes place between the film’s protagonist, 88-year-old Abraham Bursztein and his young granddaughter. The little girl refuses to join in a family photo with Abraham surrounded by his many grandchildren. When he cajoles and insists, ..

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Mexico City-based theater collective Teatro Ojo's works are constantly evolving. Nothing is ever really finished. That's because they take from every performance. Whatever the audience experiences, observes, feels, and offers feedback, which they highly encourage, all is used, considered, and included in the evolution of the same piece, or introduced into another new work. Two of the ..

“America’s Greatest and Least Known Playwright.”This is how the Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes is referred to several times throughout Michelle Memran’s documentary “The Rest I Make Up,” which makes its Florida debut this Saturday as part of Miami-Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. Fornes has been called the “Mother of Avant-Garde Theater.” Theater giants like Edward A..

“Once” has always been touched with magic. And as anyone who has seen the sublime new production of the show by Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables would tell you, the musical’s spellbinding pull is as powerful as ever. When Irish director-screenwriter John Carney first told the tale of a heartbroken Irish street musician and the spunky Czech pianist who reignites his passion, a 200..

Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

IFE-ILE Afro-Cuban Dance Festival: Awareness and Transculturation

Written by: Diana Dunbar
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Watching Neri Torres rehearse is a study in focus and concentration. She demonstrates each step with an ease developed from years of immersion in the study and performance of Afro-Cuban dance and music. Her arms are fluid and her stance solid as she demonstrates a movement to the attentive dancers around her. Torres is the founder of lFE- ILE Afro- Cuban Dance and Music, which is presenting its annual festival from August 14 through 19 at the Koubek Center.
“In Cuba, dance and music are linked in a very close way,” says Torres. She created her organization in 1996 as a way to “create a space for Cuban immigrants to express their traditions… to come to reproduce their memories and also to share with the community. A space of celebration; a space of reflection -- and also, on the academic side of it -- to discuss important issues related to our culture.”
IFE- ILE is considered one of the most acclaimed Afro-Cuban dance companies, and is known for presenting traditional Afro-Cuban dances as well as popular dances such as Rumba, Son, Mambo and Salsa. Torres studied contemporary dance at Havana’s Instituto Superior de Artes and has an MFA from the University of Colorado. Along with running her company, she has toured with and was a principal dancer and choreographer for Gloria Estefan.
Torres speaks on the role of religion in Afro-Cuban dance and music. Africans in Cuba did not take on the prevailing Christian religion, but instead incorporated their religions with it. “[They] depict how religions, which came from several ethnic groups in Cuba and Africa (especially Nigeria) got into a conversation to survive colonialism.” Torres takes aspects of these religions (or essences, as she refers to them) and transport them to the stage. “The essence of the religious ceremony is taken on stage – the dance reenacts what occurs in the religious context – and it’s transformed into something more creative and more theatrical.”
She touches on transculturation – a term employed by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz- to describe the merging and converging of cultures. “You have influences but you have a core culture…a moment of convergence and adaptation to create a new form,” explains Torres.
The festival is now in its 19th year and is instrumental in bringing artists from Cuba to perform and conduct workshops and lectures. This year’s guest artists are from Ben Rarra and Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba dance companies, and include workshops in various dances -- Orisha, Modern, Arara, Makuta/Palo/Yuka, Rumba, Cubaton, Gaga, Tumba francesa; and Bata drumming. There is also a three-day children’s camp. An academic conference “Following the steps of the Orishas: Afro- Cuban Spirituality in Urban Spaces” will be held on August 17 at HistoryMiami Museum (1:00- 6:00 p.m.) followed by a performance. A closing gala premiere will be held on Saturday, August 19 at 8:00 p.m.
Back at the rehearsal, the dancers and musicians are concentrating hard in order to follow Torres’ instructions. She demonstrates a step, fixed positions, gives a cue to the drummers as the dancers reenact the meeting of several deities and cultures – a creation of a creation.
IFE-ILE Afro-Cuban Dance Festival; Monday, August 14 – Saturday, August 19; Koubek Center, 2705 S.W. 3rd St.; tickets for performances, workshops and conferences range from $20 to $220; information 305-284-6001/ 786-704-8609;;

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