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

Artburst Portal

Miami’s venerable M Ensemble is a company that sometimes dips into its rich history to mount fresh productions of past shows. For its second production in its versatile new home at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, the troupe is revisiting Darren Canady’s “Brothers of the Dust.” Winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the ..

“El cuento de Rene,” actor and director Larry Villanueva’s adaptation of Cuban writer Rene Ariza’s short stories into a work of theater, is more than an homage. It’s a statement on oppression. Ariza was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to send manuscripts abroad. He was banned from creating theater in Cuba and condemned as “counter-revolutionary.” Ariza served five years of h..

Those who attend film festivals aren't looking for the mainstream, Cineplex offerings. That isn't the goal. Amid the indie films, the foreign entries, documentaries, and the world premieres, there's another reason to canvass the program for something you might not see anywhere else. Given the Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival to be produced by a college or university..

{This interview was conducted before the film making team went on to amazing Oscar success.} Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins are nine miles away from the Liberty City housing projects where they both grew up, but they are worlds away. They are at the picturesque Standard Hotel to talk about the new movie "Moonlight," with a screenplay by Jenkins base..

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “García Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.” The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in i..

Sales of George Orwell’s chilling dystopian novel “1984” have soared during the early days of the Trump administration, the headlines pouring out of Washington having repositioned a 1949 literary classic as a 21st century cautionary tale. The late Czech president and playwright Václav Havel brought his deeply observed, hard-earned perspective on life under totalitarianism to the stage..

“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..

Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..

Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..

Miami choreographer Augusto Soledade has been a fixture in the local dance world since he arrived here in 2004. His cast has shifted over the years and he continues to challenge himself artis..

In one duet, two dancers use their bodies as counterweights, springing forth from each other’s bodies with explosive power. In another, dancers form a sharp line before torsos undulate and fa..

Teacher, choreographer and activist Dale Andree is known for her ability to merge activism with dance. Andree founded and directs National Water Dance, a site-specific project that joins danc..

In 2016, Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance company crossed their 25-year mark. To celebrate, the company returns to Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a 25th anniversary..

From singers like Joan Baez to poets like Maya Angelou to anonymous knitters of pink pussy hats, creative women have played an essential role in this country as agitators and activists. Likew..

When Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) takes the stage this weekend, it will present a program rich in the cultural milieu of Miami. Co-founders Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra i..

It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..

Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..

Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..

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

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..

En la cultura yoruba, y sobre todo en sus manifestaciones caribeñas como la afrocubana, las historias contadas oralmente por generaciones ocupan un lugar esencial. Esas historias, muchas de e..

En la serie artística Out in the Tropics, la tarima no discrimina, la sensibilidad de los intérpretes es inclusiva y todo público es bienvenido. Producción de la entidad local sin fines d..

El flamenco es una música de fusión. La tradición es de sobrevivencia, de cambio constante y adaptación al lugar y los tiempos. Mientras el sonido puede ser diferente, el espíritu de Nuevo Fl..

La problemática del cambio climático está que arde. Sobre todo en un estado como la Florida, en primera fila para sufrir consecuencias drásticas. Llegar al público con este mensaje e inspirar..