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Miami’s venerable M Ensemble is a company that sometimes dips into its rich history to mount fresh productions of past shows. For its second production in its versatile new home at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, the troupe is revisiting Darren Canady’s “Brothers of the Dust.” Winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the ..

“El cuento de Rene,” actor and director Larry Villanueva’s adaptation of Cuban writer Rene Ariza’s short stories into a work of theater, is more than an homage. It’s a statement on oppression. Ariza was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to send manuscripts abroad. He was banned from creating theater in Cuba and condemned as “counter-revolutionary.” Ariza served five years of h..

Those who attend film festivals aren't looking for the mainstream, Cineplex offerings. That isn't the goal. Amid the indie films, the foreign entries, documentaries, and the world premieres, there's another reason to canvass the program for something you might not see anywhere else. Given the Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival to be produced by a college or university..

{This interview was conducted before the film making team went on to amazing Oscar success.} Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins are nine miles away from the Liberty City housing projects where they both grew up, but they are worlds away. They are at the picturesque Standard Hotel to talk about the new movie "Moonlight," with a screenplay by Jenkins base..

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “García Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.” The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in i..

Sales of George Orwell’s chilling dystopian novel “1984” have soared during the early days of the Trump administration, the headlines pouring out of Washington having repositioned a 1949 literary classic as a 21st century cautionary tale. The late Czech president and playwright Václav Havel brought his deeply observed, hard-earned perspective on life under totalitarianism to the stage..

“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..

Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..

Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..

MCB and NWS Collaboration: ‘Inside the Music’


Photo: Leigh-Ann Esty
Written by: Octavio Roca
Article Rating

It was the first time this ever happened, and it was pretty wonderful. March 18 at the New World Center in South Beach, dancers of Miami City Ballet and musicians from the New World Symphony got together for Inside the Music: Movements, a surprising program boasting seven ballet world premieres -- including one ravishing short dance film -- plus music spanning four centuries, and some of the most exciting musical performances of the season. These two neighbors should get together again. Soon.

These were well-made dances, promising and occasionally more. The language of the seven young choreographers was conservative, thoroughly grounded in and seldom deviating from the Balanchinean mold, yet never less than entertaining. Most promising of all is this glimpse at a possible future in dance, at the sort of experiment that has paid off elsewhere.

William Forsythe, one of today’s leading choreographers, began just this way, making dances among friends within the young Noverre Society inside the Stuttgart Ballet with its orchestra players. Musicians also surely benefit from this. NWS Fellows already enjoy an enviably wide repertory, but collaborating with another kind of artist can only broaden their own artistry. Inside the Music was a win-win proposition.

Sara Esty’s Road Movies, set to the opening movement of John Adams’ s 1995 score, opened the show. A luminous Chase Swatosh stepped out first, joined in time by Renan Cerdeiro, Bradley Dunlap, Leigh-Ann Esty, Jennifer Lauren, and Nicole Stalker. Kelly Bunch’s violin and Michael Lenville’s piano breezed through Adams’ complex score, making it sound easy and at one point near the end making the dancers hit one last gorgeous stage picture just as the music stopped. Esty’s choreography throughout was sensitive to the music, and if she hasn’t yet found a language of her own, she has a beautiful way with the language she’s inherited.

Ariel Rose’s Dyad followed, set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s popular Concerto No. 5 for Harpsichord and Strings, exquisitely played by Nina Zhou at the piano backed by the NWS Fellows. Shimon Ito, Alex Manning, and Damian Zamorano, all shirtless wearing black pants, had a few sexy little shoulder shimmies, then joined Nathalia Arja in Rose’s fluid dance. The lively Arja has real chispa, and Ito was a strong, attractive partner. The first of three tiny, clever Interludes by Tricia Albertson and an irresistible Christie Sciturro followed, one or two-minute whimsical encounters of ballerina and oboist all over the house. The NWS oboist, Kevin Pearl, showed wit, a luscious mellow tone, and not bad-at-all legs (yes, they made him dance at the end as well).

Cerdeiro’s Preludes, set to George Gershwin’s  Three Preludes, was a little tame for this music. The musicians more than made up for it, though. Robert Smith’s jazzy piano, Audrey Wright’s easy violin, and especially Jeremy Morrow’s incredibly precise yet sensual trombone and Henrik Heide’s flute with its shades of Claude Bolling all got to the heart of Gershwin’s score. The 10 dancers were splendid.

A new short film followed called Danse sacrée, choreographed and directed by  Zoe Zien with videographer Bruce Pinchbeck, set to the first movement of Claude Debussy’s (1904) Danse sacrée et profane. Shot in a dream-like atmosphere at Fairchild Botanical Garden, with the score played live by the NWS Fellows, the dance began at a huge banyan tree and moved through the grass as the dancers seemed to float through a tribute to Nijinsky. Brianna Abruzzo, Cerdeiro, Ito, and Helen Ruiz were stellar, and the camera obviously loves Patricia Delgado. It is a lovely film.

A very academic duet by Eric Trope called Nine Chapters, set to Johannes Brahms’ moving Sonata No. 1 for cello and Piano, seemed not quite finished, and not up to the score’s emotional breadth. Still, Aaron Ludwig’s burnished cello sounded like a what every dramatic tenor aims for. Colorful in every way, from the tight choreography to the colorful tights, Leigh-Ann Esty’s The Cantina Band had everyone smiling and set the joint jumping to John Williams’ bar scene in Star Wars. No surprise, the NWS Fellows make one hot jazz band.

The most satisfying new dance came at the end, Acantilado by Adriana Pierce, set to Alberto Ginastera’s 1953 Variaciones Concertantes. Tricia Albertson, Emily Bromberg, Sarah McCahill, Leslie Overholt, and Chase Swatosh -- all with ideal follow-though in every phrase -- created delicious tension in this dance, which was not exactly plotless and suggested an outsider and the community that made him that. As that outsider, Jovani Forlan looked like a starlet, danced like a star, and stole the show with a touching fusion of innocence and desire. Here is a dancer to watch.

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About The writer

Dance and music critic, assistant professor of philosophy at Miami Dade College

Octavio Roca, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Miami Dade College, was music, dance and theater critic for The Washington Post, The Washington ..

About the Writer

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