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..
“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..
The white walls and well-trod floor of a light-pierced studio at Miami City Ballet enclose a charmed space—a field of incalculable energy—as sets of coupled dancers rehearse, in quick succession, two company premieres for their second program of the season, opening Jan. 13. On the schedule this day: the antic maneuvers of Calcium Light Night, Peter Martins’ 1977 choreographic debut, and Carousel pas de deux, a fairground for spinning passions, from the end of Kenneth MacMillan’s career.
In Calcium, Nathalia Arja and Kleber Rebello take the area closest to the mirrors to work out--by turns and then together--curious sequences of movement: arms spread like super-sensitive antennas, one leg entwining the other, chests up for jackrabbit jumps, lots of foot flexion. Muscle-steeling tension leads to languid fold-overs.Chase Swatosh and Lauren Fadeley, putting individual zing on this duet, shadow their colleagues.
The dancers are on their own today.But personal study and previous coaching from Nilas Martins (Peter’s son) have obviously come to help—all the better for them to obey rhythm, not let a single accent slip, and dish out attitude. In the unforgiving momentum, this focused foursome keeps breathlessness and fibrillation at bay. It’s true that chunks of the Charles Ives score, as bristling and translucent as quartz, for now have been slowed down to insure the accuracy of moves. Yet the curious choreography remains tricky.
“The first time I saw this I went, What?I honestly wasn’t sure what I was seeing,” Arja will confess later. “I had to watch a video of the dance over and over, even while having dinner! It was difficult learning this musically. Luckily, Nilas broke it down for us coming up with counts. He was amazing.”
Now Arja, with vigilant doe-eyes, not only reveals she’s internalized all that calculation—her pointe shoes clicking--but can communicate it, glancing at her partner’s placement and even telegraphing adjustments to Fadeley, her conspirator in the fastidious action, who jokes about how this prickly choreography can bedevil a ballerina.
“I’ve never done anything like it,” Arja agrees. “A lot of shifts have to come together. And you can’t just go with impulses—you have to think and move. You have to be very precise, strong and sharp. It leaves you really tired.”
As a contender to the male role in both duets on MCB’s program, Swatosh adds: “Calcium is the stark opposite of Carousel. It’s cut and dry. Though the moves in Carousel are bigger, fuller—the technical demands more obvious—there’s a freedom to it that makes me more relaxed. Calcium feels barer, and the tempos and concentrated phrases are really challenging. You have to have a lot of clarity.”
The Broadway-tempered pas de deux from Carousel was excerpted from the historic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, re-choreographed in 1992 by MacMillan for a National Theatre revival in London that debuted a few weeks before his death. The concert piece features Louise, the main characters’ troubled daughter, in a lustful encounter with an appealing cad.
As Swatosh goes on to rehearse this with Samantha Hope Galler, the studio becomes charged with emotion. The music glides through the dreamy ballad “If I Loved You,” but there are also darker strains here—the hazard of erotic pursuits MacMillan was masterful at presenting. “I researched various versions of the ballet,” says Galler, “and in MacMillan the going toward seduction, then regret, is more pronounced. I wanted to open that up. It’s my favorite type of role.”
While still adjusting to Swatosh, a first-time partner, Galler injects athletic feats with real feeling. “This is about going into someone else’s world,” she says.“But since there are no sets, I must project the situation—letting the audience imagine the scene through me.”
Swatosh likes a pure dance approach. “You’ve got to make sure the steps themselves become expressive. Once you feel comfortable with them, you can dive into a deeper realm.It’s a process.I believe acting is best when it’s natural—without embellishments.There’s no need to spoon-feed the story to an audience.”
Both partners concur that a good connection with each other precedes effective communication with the viewers. “Accommodating to a partner can be tricky,” says Swatosh.“When someone like Samantha comes along, with such a pleasurable personality, it’s so much easier to work evenly together.”
Galler explains: “There has to be a lot of trust in this ballet—with flips and jeté lifts and figuring out positions with legs exactly the right way. It’s quite a whirlwind!And Chase is always there, saying, hey, let’s think about this. It makes things so much better. For a good partnership you have to be equals.”
Reflecting on the company’s upcoming program, MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez points out the need not only for balance—thereby the contrasting duets at the center of the show—but also for perfect-fit performances. “The Broadway musical is seamless,” she says.“But Calcium is jagged, not comfortable. You really have to have the right cast for the in-your-face quality to come across. I feel we have dancers with the right personality for that now.”
As an original New York City Ballet cast member of Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, another ingenious company premiere on the bill, Lopez attests to the value of boundary-stretching choreography for dancers. She recalls an aha-moment when, after all the sweat equity in the studio, performance with the graph-sheet backdrop and workaday costumes gave the Robbins ballet “a sort of pixilated look. I thought, my God this is Jerry’s response to the rise in technology. I look at the ballet now and realize how forward-thinking it was.”
Robbins biographer Deborah Jowitt explains how having fallen under the spell of both downtown dance and contemporary composers, the choreographer hit upon this big-group work, merging classicism with minimalism, set to the brief motifs and spiraling structure of Phillip Glass’s music, including the march from his opera Akhnaten.
Lopez praises the ground-breaking power of the ballet’s three parts, which she can summarize with the clarity of a significant episode in her dancing life. “In the first section the corps has a lot of walking steps and then, among them, come three couples—six angels—which to me are the artists who influence where the mass movement is going. While a couple is dancing a very romantic pas de deux, the second section has a line of females silhouetted in the background following a very exact sequence of moves, with minimal changes and difficult to learn, which I see as equations that are the same except for tiny variations. The third section becomes tribal, grounded in the downbeat, and this takes us back to our roots.”
Serenade will round out her company’s offerings.History-making as Balanchine’s first choreography in America, this already pulls the old European dance form toward a novel phase in the New World.But the work also brings a strong hue of academic classicism, nicely setting off the accompanying pieces.
“Putting this very varied program together,” says Lopez, “I wanted the audience to understand that, yes, all of this is ballet.”
Miami City Ballet Program II runs Jan.13-15, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m., at the Arsht Center for Performing Arts, Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.; tickets $20-$99; Feb.4-5 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; www.miamicityballet.org.
Yoli Mayor is a 22-year old Miami native who won over the judges of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” with her power voice (think Adele mixed with Etta James). This weekend, Miami audiences will h..
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..
Esta es una gran noticia para el público amante del ballet en Miami. Tras un paréntesis de diez años en los que solo nos visitó de manera esporádica, la Primera Bailarina mexicana Katia Carra..
Solo hay que aplicar el concepto “seis grados de separación” a uno de los artistas que se han presentado en las Galas de Estrellas del Festival Internacional de Ballet de Miami (IBFM por sus ..
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”. ..