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..
“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..
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..
A casual conversation with a fellow theater artist prompted José Manuel Dominguez, founder and artistic director of Antiheroes Project, to produce the company’s latest piece, “El tiempo de las mandarinas,” (“Season for Tangerines”) by Argentine playwright Rafael Nofal. “I am drawn to themes of memory, dreams, and paradise lost, but for a long time I’ve wanted to do a play based on reality,” sa..
The 32nd International Hispanic Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 6 with the Mexican company Los Tristes Tigres’ irreverent spin on Shakespeare, “Algo de un tal Shakespeare” (“Something by One Shakespeare”). Founder and director Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the festival’s engine that could and still can, identifies this raucous play as part of the festival’s larger goal of attracting..
Nowadays, it’s tough not to feel worried, paranoid or in need of some escapist relief from the steady flow of oh-no-he-didn’t news out of Washington. Miami playwright Theo Reyna feels your pain. His response is “Firemen Are Rarely Necessary,” a jet-black satire now getting its Mad Cat Theatre Company world premiere at Miami Theater Center’s Sand Box. The play takes intricately aim..
Pearl Cleage’s play “Flyin’ West,” an M Ensemble production currently on stage at the beautiful new performing arts center in Liberty City, the Sandrell Rivers Theatre, is set in humble Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. Set in 1898, the play focuses on the lives of Sophie (Brandiss ..
Esteban, (http://estebanlapelicula.com/en/) the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as a single parent, and his perseverance following his dream of becoming a musician. The challenges seem overwhelming. Esteban and his mother struggle to make ends meet (htt..
Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to pucker.
The Fairy’s Kiss, Alexei Ratmansky’s revisit of an alluring ballet, brings lots of baggage but follows a new flight plan for the MCB commission. As if under a spell himself, the Russian star-choreographer decided to do still another treatment—his third, following a long line of predecessors—of Igor Stravinsky’s 1928 score, Le Baiser de la fée, whose narrative springs from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ice Maiden. The composer here pays tribute to countryman Tchaikovsky, putting in a steelier frame several of the earlier master’s lush songs and piano works. Nijinska first choreographed the music, which Balanchine later took up revising several dance versions throughout his career.
“Stravinsky composed this out of love for Tchaikovsky, whose music had actually fallen out of fashion at the time,” says Ratmansky. Devoted to the beauty of that artistic relationship—the melodic depth of the romanticist channeled through the rhythmic complexity of a probing modernist—the choreographer has kept on exploring, from a youthful effort to this current venture, the full dramatic potential of the four-part score.
For Ratmansky, Stravinsky’s abridgement of the original fairy tale remains most suggestive. The scenario distills the complicated details of Andersen’s story into an allegory of the artist claimed by a supernatural power. Here a boy orphaned in a snowstorm grows up as the special charge of a village and becomes engaged to one of its loveliest maidens; marital bliss, alas, lies not in his destiny. A wondrous being in different guises has followed him since infancy and—her kiss as a stamp of passage— finally spirits him away to a place beyond space and time. “It’s like telling the story in three sentences,” notes the choreographer, who recognizes the efficiency of a compressed drama that radiates through its metaphors.
The significance of the danced tale, indeed, is not to be underestimated. Critic Laura Jacobs, writing about Balanchine’s own fascination with this subject, identifies his personal Ice Maiden/Fairy/Muse as “the matriarch who breathed eternity into so many of his ballets.” And Ratmansky invigorates the depiction of an artist’s journey not only with refreshed classicism but also by relying on contemporary stagecraft. Once more he counts on his bond with set and costume designer Jerome Kaplan and stage-projections artist Wendall K. Harrington, long-standing collaborators, to strengthen the ballet’s visual impact.
“I trust them, and we can be very frank with each other,” says Ratmansky. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with these friends makes it comfortable to bring state-of-the-start craft to his project while upholding a fundamental goal: supporting the movement.
“Projections are ideal for dance since choreographers need floor and like to minimize scenery,” says Harrington. “There’s also the benefit of having a lot of images without needing to change sets.” In discussion with Kaplan, she’s come upon a cubist style of design that gives multiple perspectives to the dance-drama without competing with it.
“Projections cannot be too busy or too bright or in your face. They have to lead you in,” the designer points out. “My art is most beautiful when it allows me to create a form of music.”
Ratmansky further relies here on a group of dancers whom he praises for “their humility as professionals. They can work on little details for hours.”
And it’s exactly those fine points that excite Jeanette Delgado, who plays the bride-not-to-be, relishing the choreography for its challenging dynamics. She refers to her duet with the male lead, explaining, “A lot is always happening. I can’t just do a port de bras correctly, for instance, without showing great longing for my partner even in my hands.”
As the choreographer’s second MCB commission in five years—amid his astoundingly productive schedule—The Fairy’s Kiss lets the company not only continue to work with a creator at the top of his form but also sharpen their dramatic skills. “Although Alexei stays in the classical tradition, it’s beautiful how he modernizes it for us to show what’s happening,” says Delgado.
Renan Cerdeiro agrees that the choreography lets him, in portraying the young man, speak fully with his body. “Ratmansky is very specific in his movement, but allows for a give and take. That’s wonderful for the dance and for the dancer. He makes you look good. Working with him has changed the way I dance, so I can take that beyond this ballet.”
MCB principal Simone Messmer, who herself has profited from previous performances of Ratmansky’s ballets at American Ballet Theater, will dance the title role. She credits the choreographer’s humanity—evidenced as much in his dealings with dancers in the studio as in his stage creations—for eliciting more sensitive portrayals.
“He knows your weaknesses and your comfort zone—and never makes you feel rushed. With him, classical technique becomes very logical,” says the ballerina.
This has eased her way into an ambiguous character who bestows a mystical gift yet impedes worldly fulfillment. Messmer has come to take a benign view of the fairy, saying, “She’s not evil at all. She comes to show other possibilities for a child who knows he is different.”
Viewers will have to decide what they think.But it’s interesting that, toward the end of his fairy tale, Andersen himself directly asked his readers, “Do you think this is a sad story?”
The question put to Ratmansky, the choreographer answers: “It depends how you look at it. Yes, the fairy’s kiss is cold and causes suffering. But it helps the boy fulfill his dream.”
MCB’s premiere of Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht and the return of Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia will complete the program.
Miami City Ballet Program III, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 2: p.m., The Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.; tickets $20-$189; miamicityballet.org.
You might expect something a tad unusual from a jazz band comprised of Bulgarians and Cubans that’s led by the principal percussionist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. And that’s what you’ll ..
Not everybody who begins a musical career at age three singing in his grandfather’s Pentecostal Church finds his way to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Soloman Howard did in two short decades...
Singer-songwriter Tiago Iorc may have been one of Brazil’s best-kept secrets, but the word is getting out. Fresh from appearances in New York, Boston and Orlando, Iorc makes his South Flo..
Gustavo Matamoros’ beard has gone gray, but his passionate promotion of listening as a way of engaging the world remains fresh.Whether bats in the Everglades, shrimp in Biscayne Bay or the no..
Just about now, even as the unsuspecting may be lounging at the beach, classical music is thundering forth in Miami. Our town’s annual eight week Miami Music Festival has begun with its offer..
Talk of weddings can quickly split a friendly gathering into camps of pro and con. Those on the pro side retell the moment when the crying six-year-old ring bearer, stunned by the attention o..
What better way to welcome summer than with a burst of live music? Leave it to the French to come up with the idea. Since 1982, they’ve marked the summer solstice with free concerts and p..
Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade is as tiny as a house sparrow, with a voice as clean and pure as a bell. These delicate qualities belie a fierce inner strength and a steely artistic will. A..
Melissa Aldana is the first woman instrumentalist and the first South American artist to win jazz’s prestigious Thelonius Monk competition. Which distinction is more important to her? Neither..
El debut de Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) en noviembre del año pasado fué un acontecimiento artístico y un descubrimiento sumamente agradable. Una sola función en el Miami-Dade Cou..
El festival “Out in the Tropics”, patrocinado por Fundarte en conjunto con el Centro Cultural Español y el Miami Book Fair International, normalmente trae artistas del mundo LGBTQ e hispanoha..
La Gala anual de Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami (CCBM) es un evento que esperan con ansiedad los aficionados al ballet en Miami y, sobre todo, los admiradores del estilo cubano. Desde su deb..
El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..
Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..
No hay que viajar a otro país para disfrutar en vivo de la música cubana del momento, la más innovadora, la que le da la vuelta al mundo. Basta con asistir a Global Cuba Fest, aquí mismo, en ..
Nadie como el bailarín y coreógrafo español Antonio Gades para describir el arte que lo hizo internacionalmente famoso cuando vivía: “Un extracto de fuego y de veneno, eso es el flamenco”. ..
Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..
En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..