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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..

GroundUP Brings New Music Fest to North Beach

Photo: Snarky Puppy
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Florida in February has its own magic: gorgeous light, cooler temperatures, clear skies and soft sea breezes. Now, imagine those breezes carrying the moaning strains of Esperanza Spalding’s bass fiddle or of David Crosby’s rich baritone. You might have to strap yourself down to keep from floating off on a beauty-induced high.

Debuting Friday through Sunday at the North Beach Bandshell, the GroundUP Festival isn’t only about great concerts, it’s also about making real connections. Executive director Paul Lehr explained: “One of the important characteristics in creating the festival was not to have the traditional barrier between you and the artist. We’ve asked artists to have small workshops and master classes. There’s going to be a song-writing workshop, you can join a group to sing acapella by the sea with some of the singers, there will be a drum circle on the sand you can sit in on. It’s a way for the audience to interact on a more personal level with the performers…we want fans to have access to the artists.”

The festival is the brainchild of Michael League, the young bass player and composer who heads up the GRAMMY award-winning group Snarky Puppy, which is also headlining the festival. If you aren’t familiar with the group, don’t let the weird moniker fool you—no dogs were involved in the making of any of their recordings, nor are they an alternative band from someone’s garage in Portland. Born in a dorm room at the University of North Texas when League was a freshman, Snarky Puppy is now a Brooklyn fixture with a worldwide web of concerts and a rabidly loyal fan base that is willing to fork over big travel bucks to hear their favorite band. “The response has been overwhelming,” says Lehr. “Fifty percent or more of the audience is coming from either out of state or out of the country. People have commented to me that this is like the Art Basel for music.”

Often labeled a “jazz fusion” group, Puppy draws from a broad array of sources to create its signature sound, a sonic melting pot cooked up by versatile players who are not afraid to mess around with unconventional ways of approaching their instruments. “They play classical, jazz—they’re genre defying,” explains Lehr. “What they really are is musicians’ musicians. The band is all about musicality. Who do we want to play with? We want someone who is really incredible musically.”

League, the crew’s ringleader, is a self-confessed workaholic who spends most of his time either in the studio or on the road. The band has toured so much, in fact, that League recently went for two years without a physical address. After their Miami Beach performances they will head to the Kennedy Center, then on to dates all over Europe, finishing up finally in August at the—pardon the pun—august Newport Jazz Festival.

The Miami Beach festival isn’t only about jazz, however. David Crosby, a frequent collaborator with League, brings folk rock of the highest pedigree. Unlike many septuagenarians of the psychedelic era, his voice is still lustrous, as mellow and warm as oak-aged single malt whiskey. He and League recently co-wrote Lighthouse (2016), an acoustic album that, through a practically supersonic creative burst, they were able to complete in only 12 days.

Also performing, both onstage and in the sand, will be conga drummer Pedrito Martínez. If Crosby still looks more or less like the hippy he once was, Cuban-born Martinez looks like a rapper, is built like an Olympian, and plays like a possessed Santero priest. His hands move like lightening on his four-conga set and his broad, body builder shoulders back them up so that his playing appear completely effortless

Sitting in with many of the bands throughout the weekend will be Obama’s first lady of jazz, Esperanza Spalding. The former president chose the brilliant, beautiful, biracial Spalding to be his one guest musician during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Stockholm. The multiple GRAMMY winner vocalist and bass player will also do her own sets and is rumored to have a “surprise” in store for festival audiences.

With such an illustrious lineup, organizers are taking extra precautions to ensure these virtuoso musicians sound their best: “The North Beach Bandshell has a great sound system,” says Lehr, “but we are flying in the sound engineers so that we can guarantee that we’ll have great acoustics.” From the workshops to the after parties to the festival, every aspect of the event is curated. They even were able to convince James Beard Foundation honoree Michelle Bernstein to do all of the food.

“We want this be the unfestival festival,” explains Lehr. “Not crammed with people, not festival food, just great music and a great atmosphere. We hope that it will become a part of the social and cultural fabric of Miami Beach for many years to come.”

GroundUP Music Festival, Friday 1:00-11:00 p.m., Saturday 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave.; tickets $85; groundupmusicfestival.com.

 


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