The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

Pearl Cleage’s play “Flyin’ West,” an M Ensemble production currently on stage at the beautiful new performing arts center in Liberty City, the Sandrell Rivers Theatre, is set in humble Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. Set in 1898, the play focuses on the lives of Sophie (Brandiss ..

Esteban, (http://estebanlapelicula.com/en/) the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as a single parent, and his perseverance following his dream of becoming a musician. The challenges seem overwhelming. Esteban and his mother struggle to make ends meet (htt..

Desperate times call for desperate measures. For some, that might mean taking a second or third job. Or robbing a bank. Or moving in with family. For Casey, a straight lip-syncing Elvis impersonator in a Panama City bar, desperation means forsaking the King’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit for leg hair-hiding pantyhose, fake boobs and big-hair wigs, the better to sell himself as a fa..

Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..

As this steamy spring melts into a sweltering summer, Actors’ Playhouse is inviting theater lovers to a wedding – a big, fat Jewish-WASP wedding, otherwise known as the Broadway musical “It Shoulda Been You.” Though the show seemingly takes place in the present, the piece by book writer-lyricist Brian Hargrove and composer Barbara Anselmi is an old-fashioned, stereotype-filled throwba..

'Death & Harry Houdini' Makes Another Magical Moment at ArshtDennis Watkins knows how to make an entrance. In the House Theatre of Chicago’s “Death & Harry Houdini,” now back at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater five years after it first wowed Miami audiences, Watkins arrives onstage with the help of theater technology unknown in Houdini’s day. Dangling upside dow..

Director Carlos Lechuga’s masterful unspooling of time in his second feature film “Santa y Ándres” constructs a uniquely Cuban mix of tedium and despair, resulting in an emotionally intense experience that sneaks up on the viewer in plain sight. The film opens with the stillness of a landscape painting: the eastern Cuban countryside of 1983 – rugged, lush, and verdant. The statuesque..

Memory – deep-seated, fragile, slippery, mutable – is at the heart of Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015, the play is a family tragicomedy given a sci-fi makeover; in other words, this thought-provoking theater piece charts its own, fresh path. Now getting its South Florida premiere as the second professional production from the Main Street Players, ..

The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South..

After 17 years as a principal dancer with the esteemed San Francisco Ballet, dancing every major role and style possible, Lorena Feijoo is retiring from that company to embark on a new journe..

Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick is a storyteller. Her company Alma Dance Theater brings a particularly female inner world to the stage, through lush and sensual choreography. Nick’s..

Pools are ubiquitous in Miami. They dot the landscape like Jackson Pollock drip paintings. Residents swim or idle the hours away by or in the pool – and dancers of Momentum Dance Company also perf..

May’s “Mujeres” series of strong, multi-faceted, women-focused productions, commissioned for Miami Theater Center’s SandBox space, concludes with Spanish-born dancer-choreographer Carlota Pr..

One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..

The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..

Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..

From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..

A Stream of Music from the Nile to Florida

Photo: The Nile Project, photo by Matjaz Kacicnik
Article Rating

Like few other rivers, the Nile, considered the world’s longest, has captured humankind’s imagination from antiquity to today -- a source of life and inspiration, but of conflict as well. Just ask the men and women who integrate the group of performers, educators, and activists known as The Nile Project.

The music that springs from the river’s fertile banks, the cultural and environmental challenges it faces – from booming populations to ecological degradation to political meddling – and the urgency of helping preserve its basin for future generations, prompted Egyptian-American ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero to launch an initiative in 2011 that would address those issues.

With backgrounds as diverse as Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia and Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, musicians and singers were invited to join a collective effort that would give voice to the Nile and its issues through music. Last year, the artists took their musical creations to nearby countries; this year, they have brought their efforts to the United States.

Members of The Nile Project kicked off a four-month U.S. tour in New York City and will be visiting the North Shore Bandshell in Miami Beach on Saturday, Jan. 24, as part of Miami Dade College’s performing arts series MDC Live Arts. Workshops for MDC students and faculty will also be held prior to the day of the concert and afterwards.

“When we started The Nile Project, the idea was to bring together musicians from the 11 Nile countries to collaborate on making music that bridges their musical traditions, instruments, and systems, and use these conversations that we have on stage to inspire a different way of thinking about the Nile,” say Girgis, president and CEO of The Nile Project, from Gainesville, where the group performed at the University of Florida.

“We wanted the musical platform to encourage dialogue and encourage learning, both cultural and environmental, and to get the universities that we’d be working with to start seeing where their role fit into this whole conversation,” explains the 38-year-old cultural entrepreneur.

Waves that reach Florida

The conversation surrounding the Nile is one that goes beyond the local problems faced by the countries that benefit from its water and soil. The allocation and control of resources, pollution, sustainability, and other issues, also apply to a state such as Florida, where water is so linked to its future, in everything from the critical preservation of the Everglades to the rising sea level.

To also raise awareness of water-related issues the day of the concert but from a more local perspective, the National Water Dance project, which uses dance as a catalyst to move people to care about the environment and specifically water resources, will offer a free performance earlier in the afternoon.

In the case of the Nile, Girgis speaks of the concept of “the Nile citizen,” or a person who can contribute to the sustainability of the river in some capacity and who does not necessarily have to be from that area.

“We don’t really think of Nile citizens as just the people who live along the banks of the Nile,” says Girgis. “We also consider anybody out there that feels a certain affinity to the Nile to be a part of our audience, of the network that we’re creating.”

Musicians as citizens too

The Nile Project’s concerts are a testament to the work across boundaries and borders that its participants engage in to bring to the forefront the myriad musical styles, instruments, cultures, and languages of the Nile region. The group released a critically-acclaimed debut album, Aswan, in 2013, and expects to launch a new one, Jinja, this year.

“This is really great for me. It’s like I have a new African family I didn’t know before,” says Steven “Sogo” Irambona, Burundi’s leading bassist,  who describes his music as pure Burundi blues adapted to pop music with traditional instruments like ikembe, umuduri, igondera, and indonongo. “I have understood many things about people living along the Nile River.”

Touring for the second time with The Nile Project, the 31-year-old musician recognizes that shared solutions are imperative if the region is to survive.

“As it’s a long river which connects many countries, if one of these countries exploits the water more than others, this will negatively affect other countries,” he says. “So it’s better to find a common ground and decide what to do that is better for everyone.”

Finding a common ground through music is not the only way The Nile Project fulfills its mission of inspiring, educating, and empowering people on the subject. By integrating programs in music, education, dialogue, leadership, and innovation, students of diverse disciplines and geographies become engaged and gain the tools to take action.

“The music is only 25 to 30 percent of our program. The music is really our megaphone. It’s how we attract people to this conversation. It’s how we bring people into the world of the Nile,” says Girgis, who believes it’s the Nile’s young generation, and the youth around the world, more than anyone else, who can create change.

“Initially we were looking at everyone. And then we realized the kind of work we’re doing is complex. It requires an engaged audience,” explains Girgis. “To do justice to the level of learning and understanding that is required to make this happen, people need to have time to invest; they need to have a certain level of education; and they need to be young enough so that they don’t have too much baggage.”

The right lesson, the right platform

The uniqueness of this endeavor and the possibility of reaching diverse audiences on many levels appealed to Kathryn García, executive director of MDC Live Arts.

“I was just so struck by this combination of cross-border collaboration and engagement with university students, that I immediately said, ‘How can we get this to Miami?’” remembers García.

“I thought that the message of The Nile Project about people moving beyond their differences to find solutions to problems was an inspiring one, and it allowed us a platform to work within the college community across disciplines, from humanities to environmental sciences to international relations, to really start a larger conversation about global water issues,” she says.

The Nile Project’s education, leadership, and innovation components will all come together at MDC with the group sharing their knowledge and experiences during a five-day residency with students and also with the college’s Earth Ethics Institute.

Education is so important to The Nile Project group, that a Nile Fellowship and a Nile Prize, among other plans, are in the works as ways to incentivize students to mobilize their peers and come up with innovative solutions to the challenges and threats the basin faces.

“I’d like to see this project evolve into a network of Nile citizens that is trans-boundary, transnational, not only in the Nile basin but elsewhere,” Girgis says.

The Nile Project concert, Saturday, January 24, at 8:00 p.m., at the North Shore Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; general admission $25. MDC Live Arts: 305- 237-3010. The National Water Dance project, also Saturday, at 5:00 p.m., on the beach behind the Bandshell; free.

A version of this appears in the Miami New Times.

Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

About The writer

Journalist, arts writer, instructor of English and Spanish

A bilingual journalist and writer for over 20 years, Juan Carlos studied Communications at Fordham University in New York. He holds a Master&rsquo..

About the Writer

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”. ..

Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..

En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..

En su discurso de recibimiento del Premio Nobel, el poeta chileno Pablo Neruda afirmó que el poeta no es un "pequeño dios." De hecho expresó que el mejor poeta “es el hombre que nos entrega e..