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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: ..

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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