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Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

Friendships can bring seemingly unlike people together to sometime form a strong bond. Such is the case in Walter Dean Myers’ coming of age novel, Darius & Twig. According to the summary notes of the book “Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.” It’s a tale of endurance, perseverance, an..

Kristoffer Diaz’s searing, hilarious and all-too-resonant play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” isn’t new to South Florida. The 2009 script, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, made its area debut in 2012 in a fierce and fine production at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company just a few months before the long-running regional powerhouse folded. Now “Chad Deity” has ret..

“This is no camera, nothing cut. This is real," says Tranee Wallace, whose story is one of three live radio plays in Dan Froot and Company's "Pang!" at Miami Light Project's Light Box at the Goldman Warehouse. Hers is one of a triptych of oral histories adapted into plays of families facing adversity: A Los Angeles single mom who loses the home she and her nine children live in after..

When it comes to farces, Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is one of the great ones. The 1982 comedy has made it to Broadway three times, and American audiences all over the country have embraced it in countless regional productions. Actors’ Playhouse is having a go at “Noises Off” as the second show of its 30th anniversary season. The play fits like a period glove on the main stage at the..

The intricate alchemy of inspired theatrical art is on full display in Zoetic Stage’s darkly hilarious, gripping world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts.” Demos-Brown, a rising theatrical star whose play “American Son” will open on Broadway in November, has drawn on his experience as a lawyer working on wrongful death cases to create a savage exami..

My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

The time seems right for Karen Finley to be visiting Miami, to be performing in the black box space of the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse, and to present her latest performance-art manifesto about the current political landscape, “Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.” In the show, which she began developing as a response to the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Finley plays a unicor..

New World School of the Arts Celebrates a 30 Year Anniversary


Photo: Robert Battle's work, 'Mass.'
Written by: Diana Dunbar
Article Rating

For many people it’s hard to imagine Miami without a vibrant art scene, but in 1987 Miami was just beginning its journey towards becoming a major hub for the arts, and New World School of the Arts ( NWSA ) played a pivotal role in this transformation. Friday, the New World Dance Ensemble presents a program celebrating this milestone anniversary.

Mary Lisa Burns, Dean of Dance, has assembled an extraordinary group of dancers and choreographers to honor the achievements of students and faculty members associated with NWSAthroughout the last 30 years. “We are fortunate to have a network of alumni -- it’s a pleasure to invite them back to perform,” says Burns.NWSA has an impressive list of alumni including Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Battle, who grew up in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, is presenting Mass, which was created at Juilliard in 2005 and is set to a score by John Mackie.

Reached in Europe, where he is on tour with the Ailey company, Battle says “Miami isn’t just home for me; it’s the place that Ailey first came into my life. I was 12 years old when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed at my school in Liberty City, and my life was forever altered. I saw dancers who looked like me and were from diverse communities overcoming their challenges and living out their dreams through performance. I realized that this was my calling."

Also on the program are works by NWSA faculty members Gerard Ebitz and Tina Santos-Wahl. Ebitz’s piece, A Place I’ve Never Been ( excerpts), is described by Burns as being “very beautiful and lyrical.” Ebitz, a founding member of Miami City Ballet, is a longtime faculty member at NWSA. Santos-Wahlis a full- time faculty member at NWSA and is presenting Kinda Palooza.

Burns is in her sixth year as dean. In speaking of her position, she says she is

“ fortunate to have inherited this outstanding program.” The dance division of NWSA was founded and developed by Daniel Lewis in 1987. At that time jazz and ballet were the main forms of dance in South Florida. Lewis changed that by focusing on modern dance. He explains that NWSA is distinct from other performing arts schools and universities in that it is “ truly a conservatory from high school to college.” His vision, he says, was to create a “school that would be around for a long time.”

Lewis remembers NWSA first dance performance (in 1988) as being held in the former Diamond Center in Miami. “We had to set up chairs.” This performance saw the debut of the New World Dance Ensemble.

NWSA grew out of PAVAC (Performing and Visual Arts Center). The school was formally created in 1986 by the New World School of the Arts Act of the Florida State Legislature as “centers of excellence for the performing and visual arts.” At the time Florida was experiencing a talent drain and was losing talented young artists to other areas. The state legislature wanted a school “to keep Florida artists in Florida,” explains Lewis. NWSA awarded its first high school diploma in 1988 and the first graduating class of the college was in 1992. Lewis continued to build up the dance division including the creation of the Miami Dance Sampler in the early 1990’s. The Sampler continues to this day and presents local companies to the community.

Lewis’s vision in now in its 30th year. Burns says her vision is to “continue the tradition of excellence… continue to work on behalf of our students.” Two alumni, Ashley Anduiza, who was trained at NWSA and danced with Ballet Hispanico, and Joshua Winzeler, who received his BFA in 2011 from NWSA, will perform in William Whitener’s, Tito on Timbales, a tribute to musician Tito Puente.

NWSA curriculum is modeled on Juilliard’s. Burns says it’s to “prepare our students to enter the professional world of dance as it is revolving.” As for those who decide against a professional dance career “the study of dance at a high level serves them well, no matter what they go on to do,” explains Burns.

Included in Friday’s program is Caught in the Currant, with choreography by Lara Murphy, a high school graduate of the school (1989) and an adjunct faculty member. Solo Bach brings in Bessie Award-winning choreographer Jessica Lang and Miami native John Harnage, who studied at NWSA and graduated from The Juilliard School. He is currently a member of Jessica Lange Dance. The Nutcracker (Spanish Dance) will make an early appearance and is staged by Lara Murphy and Ruth Wiesen, who received her BFA from NWSA ( 1996) and in now an adjunct faculty member at the school.

Thirty years ago Lewis built an institution and Burns continues to add to it. NWSA is a place for aspiring artists to nourish and develop their craft guided by knowledgeable and caring hands. Dance is ephemeral; NWSA is not.

New World Dance Ensemble; Friday, November 4, 8:00 .pm.; Aventura Arts and Cultural Center; 3385 NE 188th St.; 305-466-8002; admission: $12.00.

 


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