Getting into a true holiday spirit can be tough in South Florida, where palm trees, expansive beaches and balmy skies signal perpetual summer. Ever-earlier store décor and the incessant push to buy presents – more about commercialism than celebration – can make many of us feel more anxious than festive. Not to worry. Just squeeze in a trip to Miami’s Arsht Center, where City Theatre h..
One of the centerpieces of this year’s Art Week is not a static art work, and it is also one of the most sensuous and disorienting. Lebanese performance artist Tania El Khoury is producing her “Gardens Speak” for the week, courtesy of MDC Live Arts, a piece that has been applauded in cultural capitals throughout Europe and the United States. “It is a work,” she says, “that can only co..
Since its founding in 1996, City Theatre has been an important part of South Florida’s theatrical landscape, though the company’s visibility has always been highest in the month of June. That’s when its popular Summer Shorts festival takes place; for more than a decade, its high-profile venue has been the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center. Though the company founded by S..
If you were to predict who might become a nationally famous – OK, world-famous – multiplatform sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer would probably not be your first choice. Born in Germany in 1928 as Karola Ruth Siegel, the 4’7” Dr. Ruth seems more like the doting Jewish grandmother she is than a woman who used her nationally syndicated radio show, TV shows and 40-some books to help hun..
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: ..
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It happens every year, right around Thanksgiving, productions of the Nutcracker pop up from coast to coast, marking the start of the holiday season. But on Saturday, Miami audiences have the ..
As Art Week approaches, Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick’s Alma Dance Theater is getting ready to add its distinctive voice, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Flowers” at the C..
Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..
Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..
It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..
It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..
A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..
When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..
Working in a traditional genre like flamenco and creating a personal path while dealing with history is hard enough for any artist. But if you are José Enrique Morente, 25, and are a budding cantaor, son of the late, great flamenco singer Enrique Morente and the younger brother of flamenco superstar singer Estrella Morente; or you are guitarist Juan Habichuela Nieto, 25, and you happen to be the grandson of master flamenco guitarist Juan Carmona, better know as Juan Habichuela -- then the weight of expectations can easily become unbearable.
Yet in their performances at the Centro Cultural Español Miami last weekend, as part of the month-long FlamenGo series, the young Morente and Habichuela managed such pressures with a grace that belied their age. The fact that they proved to be talented, have already a personal sound and they were nothing short of spectacular in their presentations certainly rendered some questions moot.
They could have been named Perez and Garcia for all it mattered musically -- although probably that wouldn’t have helped pack the Centro’s space to the brim both nights.
Morente performed on Friday, with Habichuela Nieto as guest. The guitarist appeared on Saturday, with Morente taking a supporting role. Both were accompanied by a strong ensemble including Pedro Gabarre (El Popo) on dance, cajón (the Peruvian wooden box that has become a standard in flamenco) and palmas (clapping); Antonio Andujar, cajón and palmas, and Eloy Quiroga, palmas.
Morente, who started his presentation with a breathtaking piece a capella, not only has a powerful voice, smooth and expressive, but also a surprisingly well-controlled delivery. Rather than go for easy, applause-getting histrionics, Morente told stories, both with his lyrics (at one point at the end, nearly spent, the audience by then in the palm of his hand, he candidly conceded “I don’t know what else to sing”) and with the way he modulated his intensity.
He is a better than adequate guitarist, but when freed by Habichuela Nieto’s help he took chances with his pitch choices, veering harmonically into contemporary music and jazz before bringing it all back to flamenco.
One of the highlights of the evening was percussionist El Popo’s turn as a dancer, however. Tall, thin and looking to the casual observer like a New York hipster who had just wandered in to check things out, El Popo made the most out of the small dancing platform before the stage.
Like his friend and colleague the evening before, Habichuela Nieto opened solo on Saturday and also brought out, seemingly naturally, the Arabic, Indian and North African elements of flamenco. There were the luxuriant stroked rhythms and quicksilver runs we’ve come to expect in flamenco guitar -- but always with a purpose. Like Morente, Habichuela Nieto seems to have an innate sense of form, and he always moved the story forward.
Expectations and hype have a life of their own. But Morente and Habichuela Nieto have their own voices and something personal to say. They are naturally true to flamenco, but they are also naturally setting a path between tradition and modernity. Given the overwhelming music dynasties they represent, it’s hard to imagine a better compliment.
FlamenGo continues culminates with a concert Flamenco Intinimo by Suidy Garrido, featuring the great flamenco dancer Farruquito, at 8:00 p.m. at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; www.ccemiami.org.
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