‘Tis the season for pumpkin: the big orange squash is everywhere, in stores, drinks, fragrances, decorations. It’s Halloween tradition. But there’s another pumpkin tradition with which you may not be familiar.
Haitians celebrate New Year’s Day with soup joumou, a concoction of pumpkin, beef, onions, garlic and more. Why? “Liberty in a Soup,” a documentary premiering Oct. 9, explains.
Filmmaker Dudley Alexis says the project was inspired four years ago by a chatty Las Vegas cab driver. “He asked where I was from, I said I was from Haiti,” says Alexis, 32, who moved to South Florida in 1999. “We started to talk about the Haitian revolution.He was talking about how he was a big fan of Haitian culture. Surprisingly, he knew about the soup.”
Before 1804, soup joumou was a forbidden delicacy, prepared by enslaved people but only to be consumed by their owners. A successful struggle for independence changed that.
It all starts with the historic revolt in the rich French agricultural colony of Saint-Domingue, when in August 1791, the power structure was shocked by a well-organized uprising of enslaved people. On Jan. 1, 1804, a counsel of generals named Jean-Jacques Dessalines governor-general of an independent Haiti (Toussaint L’Ouverture, the noted leader for much of the struggle, had been taken by the French and died in prison the year before.)
But there’s much more to the story, which features political power games; shifting alliances; deception and death estimates as high as 350,000, from illness as well as fighting. “The way I see the Haitian revolution was as one of the first revolutions that redefined human rights,” says Alexis, noting that the rebellion had led “not only to the abolition of slavery in the colony but changed how people defined human rights. And the word of the revolution spread everywhere.”
In the Western Hemisphere, Haiti was the second nation after the United States to throw off a European power and seize independence, making it the second oldest democracy here as well as the world’s first black republic.
After his encounter with the cabbie, a few months of conversation with friends and encouragement from his father, Alexis decided to proceed with the documentary, which was filmed on location. “That same year I went to Haiti to do my first kind-of shoot, and I started going to Haiti more often to do research,” he recalls.
Financing was a problem. “I had to pawn a few things that I owned so that I could buy the tickets,” he says, adding that this was the first time he’d been to a pawn shop – and that he was not able to reclaim all of his possessions.
Also, Haiti was trying to recover from the devastating earthquake of early 2010. “Because I said it was about the soup, people had problems and were really skeptical about the whole project,” Alexis says. “Because it wasn’t about helping Haiti, people were not interested in helping me with the project.”
But he persisted and says the completed film has surprised many doubters. “There’s more than a lot of the people were expecting and the feedback has been great.”
After the premiere, Alexis plans to take “Liberty in a Soup” on the road, showing it at schools and colleges. He’s raising money for the tour, which will begin here in South Florida with stops at St. Thomas and Barry universities.
“Liberty in a Soup” premieres at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59 Terr. Admission is free but you must register for tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/liberty-in-a-soup-premiere-screening-at-the-little-haiti-cultural-center-tickets-27461090862.
There aren't many festivals that can boast true diversity in their lineup, but Out in the Tropics has made that its mission and it is arguably one of the best. In its seventh year and pr..
This Thursday, after 13 years of incubation, Miami dancer and filmmaker Tiffany “Hanan” Madera’s documentary Havana Habibi will debut on the big screen. A collaboration between Madera and Bro..
Ilisa Rosal founded Ballet Flamenco La Rosa in 1985 and the company soon cultivated a renowned reputation for presenting flamenco, in all its forms, to local, national and international audie..
Singer and songwriter La Flaka, The Skinny One, aka Jessica Cánovas, was born and raised in Triana, a historic neighborhood of Sevilla, Spain, surrounded by flamenco music and dance. La Flaka..
Joffrey Ballet choreographer, dancer and Hollywood, Fla., native Edward "Eddie" Stierle will return to South Florida with Lacrymosa, performed by Dance Now! Miami this Thursday through Friday..
Whether your interest in flamenco gravitates toward the folkloric, the funky or the just plain fun, Miami’s Centro Cultural Español (CCEMiami)’s spunky FlamenGO series is out to pull you in. ..
This week, Peter London Global Dance Company presents the Second Annual Latin and Caribbean Dance Night at the Coral Gables Museum. As a dancer, choreographer and teacher, London’s background..
Contemporary dance has a way of showing us how harmoniously encompassing art can be. That’s what South Florida’s mixed-ability dance troupe Karen Peterson and Dancers (http://www.karenpeterso..
Miami Light Project, one of this city’s most vital performing arts organizations, has long been known for convention-bending work from both local and visiting artists. Its current Wynwood per..
Founded in 1988 in Havana, the DanzAbierta company began under the direction of Marianela Boan. Considered a precursor to Cuba’s avant-garde dance movement, the company was known for its expe..
New Yorkers were still dressed for winter in somber coats and dark sweaters as a mixed crowd from socialite types to teenagers with backpacks filed into the red velvet jewel box for the Joyce..
Dancers are movers and water in nature is almost always moving. The National Water Dance performance brought the two together at the historic Deering Estate on Saturday, April 16, as part of ..
Tigertail’s month-long WATER festival is well under way. The festival highlights water’s multiple aspects and roles in human life, and is the first in a four-year project celebrating all fou..
Like most kids, dancer choreographer Brigette Cormier grew up watching television, and as an adult she still enjoys a show or two. However, in her latest dance work, TV NO, she breaks down th..
If Dale Andree could come back as an animal in her next life, she’d be a seal. The National Water Dance founder and artistic director, a self-confessed “water baby,” has a kinship with H20 an..
“All our sweetest hours fly fastest,” said Virgil. He could have been speaking of Momentum’s Spring Concert: Hearts, Heroes, Humans. Time flew as Delma Iles, artistic director of Momentum Dan..
Augusto Soledade Brazzdance has been active in the Miami dance community since Soledade arrived over 10 years ago. His choreographic style has changed over time, as has his cast of dancers. M..
On March 26, FUNDarte, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Auditorium and Culture Shock Miami, presented Brazil’s Companhia Urbana de Dança’s second annual performance in Miami. The compa..
For most audiences, the creative process is often a mystery -- the months of intricate planning and experimenting are rarely seen, over shadowed by the polished spectacle of opening night. Th..
The idea for a month-long celebration of water first came to Tigertail Productions’ Executive Director and founder Mary Luft over a year ago, as the issues of rising sea-levels and climate ch..
Were those lovers really dancing underwater or did they find a foothold for their rapture in a mossy grotto? Was that damsel, looping around, somehow tangled up in looming seaweed, or did the..
“Old age ain’t no place for sissies,” Bette Davis once said. No fun either for caregivers when elderly family members withdraw -- whether to treasured memories or in abject despair. For ..
With 34 years of creating modern dance in Miami, Momentum Dance Company’s Artistic Director and Founder Delma Iles shows no sign of slowing down. The company celebrates their anniversary thi..
The Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011 displaced millions of people, but brought one home. Japanese-born dancer and choreographer Eiko Otake was working on a site spec..
Brazil’s Companhia Urbana de Dança returns to Miami this weekend with their critically acclaimed fusion of hip hop, capoeira and contemporary dance. Presented by FUNDarte and the Miami-Dade C..
Watching Dance Now! Miami’s celebratory tribute to the José Limón Dance Company’s 70th anniversary, it’s clear Limón’s legacy lives on. The Mexico-born Limón was a pioneer in modern dance, wh..
Of the six separate concerts offered during the ninth annual Flamenco Festival Miami, three featuring individual artists stood out, electrifying the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Each o..
In the music of Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza, presented by Fundarte at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center Saturday, the border is no place for walls but rather, a moveable feast. ..
Performance Hall at New World Center was packed Saturday, Feb. 3 for the New Work program, which NWS conductor and artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas introduced as “one of the more adve..
Having grown up in Buenos Aires with a strong interest in music, one would think that Jaime Bronsztein (http://jaimebronsztein.webs.com/) would have slid down the well-lubricated tracks towar..
A creepy old king ogles his beautiful stepdaughter. Powerless to stop him, her mother, the queen, protests drunkenly. The girl, age maybe 12 or so, falls for the only man who does not lust af..
At first their sound is reminiscent of Bob Marley. Just as plaintive but with added punch. But listen longer -- the more familiar the music feels, the harder it is to pin down. This is t..
People often imagine new artwork is the product of the solitary artist genius slaving away in lonely studios. The South Florida Symphony’s 20th anniversary program foregrounds a different vis..
At an age when many are winding down their working lives, Ignacio Berroa eagerly anticipates a new stage in his career. It would be understandable if the 64-year-old drummer, recognized a..
We know it’s the holiday season when trees light up, menorah candles start to burn, ubiquitous Christmas carols pipe through drugstores, “The Nutcracker” plays on every stage – and in recent ..
Late last year, on Dec. 20, 2016, Romero Britto and Mark Bryn hosted the Great Artists Series Cocktail Reception at the Britto Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the legendary impresaria, Judy Dru..
Después de una serie de actuaciones muy exitosas en varias ciudades del Este del país, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) llega a Miami para ofrecer seis presentaciones del jueves 22 ..
La ofensiva espontánea protagonizada por BalletBoyz y Cie. Herve Koubi el fin de semana pasado en teatros de Fort Laudedarle y Miami, con dos propuestas artísticas absolutamente fuera de seri..
La atracción principal del tercer programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) que se presentó el fin de semana pasado en el Arsht Center fue el estreno mundial de One Line ..
Llegados en vuelo directo desde Inglaterra, BalletBoyz (Premio Nacional de Danza 2013 a la Mejor Compañía Independiente) ofrecerá el sábado 10 de febrero una función patrocinada por Culture Shock ..
Por dos noches consecutivas, el Miami City Ballet (MCB), que dirige Lourdes López desde 2012, abrió las puertas de sus instalaciones en Miami Beach para ofrecer un encuentro Open Barre con e..
El segundo programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) dedicado a los 100 años del nacimiento de Jerome Robbins (1918-1998), el gran coreógrafo norteamericano que triunfó ..
2017 fue un buen año para la danza en Miami. El Flamenco Festival nos permitió volver a ver a Jesús Carmona, el Internacional Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) sobrevivió al huracán Irma, Dance..
El Miami City Ballet (MCB) presentó por fin en el Arsht Center la nueva producción de su gran espectáculo navideño, el “Cascanueces” de Tchaikovsky y Balanchine, ahora con diseños origin..
La tradicional temporada de Cascanueces del Miami City Ballet (MCB) tendrá algo nuevo este año. La compañía que dirige Lourdes López ha decidido renovar los diseños de la superproducción que..