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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..

Out in the Tropics ‘Bailografía:’ Flamenco Unearthed


Photo: Photographer: Paco Villalta
Written by: Mia Leonin
Article Rating

Juan Carlos Lérida’s performance Bailografía, part of the seventh season of the Out in the Tropics festival, is not the story of a man’s trajectory as a flamenco performer over the course of three decades, although the title and the numerous venues and dates that flash above the stage hint at biography. Infusing traditional flamenco with contemporary movement and theatricality, Bailografía is a hypnotic meditation on love, death, and memory.

Bailografía is a story that may have been lived or imagined. It’s a story that may be gnawed at the edges by love’s bites or bruised in resentment. Bailografía is a story of a man on the cusp of a full moon in Sagittarius, an archer flailing and recovering, slinging ancient arrows at an attentive audience in a cozy cabaret on Miami Beach on June 18, 2016.

Bailografía is the story of armed guards posted at the entrance of the cabaret, and just a stone’s throw from the guards, men stretched out on the concrete of a now-defunct art space turned makeshift shelter. In rumpled clothing and pants rolled up to endure the heat, their sweaty shins glisten under a foggy moon.

Bailografía is the story of a young man dancing a Sevillana with a girl in a polka dotted dress, their waists as fluid as the aguardiente sloshing over the lip of a glass on a tray carried to yet another spectator at another cabaret 12 years before in Girona or Seville or Madrid. It is the story of love between two men and how that love is still dangerous.

Lérida’s ferocious execution of movement and lyrical transitions from one episode to the next reveal an artist who does not tell stories through dance – the stories tell him. Lucky for us, he’s an attentive listener. We watch. The guards wait at the door. The homeless men stretch out.

Lérida begins the performance prostrate before a mound of dirt, his hands swallowed by the earth. For the next hour and a half of non-stop flamenco fervor, he periodically returns to the dirt pile and buries the genre’s accoutrements – Spanish fans, a handkerchief, symbolic threads sewn into his jacket, and the jacket itself. Of course, in avant guard fashion, he is subverting the conventions of flamenco. The elegant flourishes of the hands contort, the palmadas stutter, falter, then erupt. The zapateo or foot work stumbles, thunders, and argues with itself.

The deconstruction of a dance form is interesting, but it is not original. What’s original is Lérida’s willingness to embody the interstitial space between story and memory, masculine and feminine, rage and reconciliation. To create art from this in-between, uncertain space is noble in the truest sense of the word. In addition to meaning high-minded, the Latin root of noble, noscere, means to seek, to learn, to find out. Lérida is a mesmerizing performer, but here’s what makes him extraordinary: behind bursts of virtuosity and technical skill, exists the whispers and grumblings of a man who wants to know the meat and gristle of the human heart, as well as its miraculous pulse.

 


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About The writer

Dance writer and theater critic, senior lecturer in English Composition, University of Miami

Mia Leonin is the author of two books of poetry, Braid and Unraveling the Bed (Anhinga Press), and the memoir, Havana and Other Missing Fathers (U..

About the Writer

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