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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: ..

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..

Momentum Dance Celebrates its 35th Birthday


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Written by: Diana Dunbar
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Celebrating 35 years is an amazing achievement for any dance company in Miami, but especially one founded in a decade better known for its ties to drugs than to the arts. Momentum Dance Company has survived the waves of growth and change experienced by Miami as it slowly grew into an international city. This weekend it will commemorate that anniversary with a program that reveals the expanse and depth of works created by Delma Iles, Momentum’s founder and artistic director.

On the program are pieces that span from Momentum’s inaugural performance in 1982 to thepremiere of a newly created work. The company has withstood the test of time and showcase a thoughtful and impressive body of work.

Handel Concerto is the introductory dance on the program and is filled with elegance, beauty and joy. It debuted in the first concert presented by Momentum in 1982. “It’s what you do when you’re young,” says Iles of the choreography. “You’re in great shape … you respond to the music.” The piece will be performed by the youthful members of Momentum. As Handel’s music pours forth in canons, it’s echoed by the movements of the dancers; time washes away as this piece is just as fresh now as it was in 1982.

Gears shift for Monkeybone, an intriguing work of two women playing men. Its dark humor is accompanied by a psychological mind game. Iles takes us on a journey into a murkier side of humanity -- the “play” is all too real.

Shadows and Accumulations II is a work whose focus is on form. Iles describes it as “very structural… two dancers accumulate and de-accumulate; they are shuffled together like a deck of cards.” This post-modern work is performed in silence, with the dancers having to be keenly attuned to each other. They weave together, peel off, gather again in a pattern which repeats. Are we watching two people trying to connect or two people trying to find their own identity? “People read all kinds of things into it,” explains Iles.

Dido, presented last season, makes a welcome encore to the stage. Shrouded in a black veil, Barbie Freeman is Virgil’sscorned queen. “The piece personifies what happens to people over and over again,” says Iles. Freeman makes powerful use of the veil; her grief seems to extend beyond the finite boundary of the material. The dance is set to Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneus.

When Iles founded her company in 1982, there were few professional dance companies in Miami. Most are no longer viable. The landscape has changed tremendously since then. As Iles explains, “Miami [today] is a whole different world… I could go to every dance and performance then -- today I can’t keep up. “

Momentum has nourished many dancers who have gone on to dance in other companies, teach or form their own companies. Such is the case with Hannah Baumgarten, who performed with the company from 1996-2001. Baumgarten (along with Diego Salterini) is the founder and co-artistic director of Dance Now! Miami. Baumgarten speaks of Iles commitment: “She believes in the tradition of modern dance.”When they decided to start Dance Now!, Baumgarten says Iles“did everything to help us get our company started. She believed in us.”

On this day in the Carrie Meek Community Center, where Momentum holds rehearsals and provides dance classes to local children, the dancers complete a smooth run through the five pieces on the program. Iles calls them one of the strongest group she has ever worked with. They are relaxed with each other and speak of the strong sense of collaboration and friendship within the international troupe.

Gold Falling Through Water, the last work on the program, is making its premiere this weekend, set to French composer Gabriel Fauré’s Sonata # 1 and played by guest artists Dr. Alan Ngim and Anne Chicheportiche. Within this Romantic score are a range of emotions. Iles notes that it's one of the most difficult pieces of music that she had ever worked with. “It’san emotional roller coaster.” The dance deals with love, death, beauty, ugliness and implied violence.“It’s the kind of work you make when you’re older.” And with 35 years of experience.“You have the confidence to be more chaotic,“ Iles explains. Much like Miami.

Momentum Dance Company 35th Anniversary Performances, Saturday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m.; Sandrell Rivers Theater;6101 N.W. Seventh Ave., Miami; tickets $30 in advance, $35 at the door, students and seniors $12; 305-284-8800; www.momentumdance.com.

 


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