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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..

Natalia Lafourcade Taps Latin American Muses for Her Latest Musical Journey

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Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade is as tiny as a house sparrow, with a voice as clean and pure as a bell. These delicate qualities belie a fierce inner strength and a steely artistic will. As an artist, she is flexible, shaping herself anew to fit the spirit and the times, but sturdy against the fickle, shifting winds of easy fashion. Miami audiences who haven’t already discovered her have the chance to do so for themselves when she plays the historic Olympia Theater this Friday.

Perhaps Lafourcade’s internal fortitude is a product of experience. This 33-year-old performer has been in the music business for nearly two decades. As a 14-year-old, Lafourcade sang with an all-girl bubble-gum pop group called Twist. Later, in 2002, a video for her first solo album casts her as a Bjork-like renegade in round, googly-eyed glasses and a pink quinceañera dress that looks like it came straight from wardrobe for the telenovela “Betty La Fea.” Just two years ago, she struck musical gold as a lovelorn indie rocker; her platinum-selling sensation, Hasta la Raíz, which traces the trajectory of a good love gone bad, garnered five Latin Grammys (she later went on to tie with Pitbull for a regular Grammy for best Latin rock, urban or alternative album). As for many a female pop idol, from Madonna to Shakira to Miley Cyrus, Lafourcade’s route to self-discovery has been a long and winding road.

Her latest release, a two-disc opus entitled Musas, seems at once a radical departure and a natural next step for her. If her previous album centered on the root of a love that digs deep into the soul only to be torn out, this new album is more outward bound, offering the hope of a fresh start. To find it, she goes back to the roots of Latin American popular music, mining the Golden Age that was the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. She and her collaborators have placed these treasures in simple settings that allow them to glow with a wild beauty that has been stripped of pretense.

As she set about to explore this music, Lafourcade found she needed experienced guides. She approached Los Macorinos, the guitar duo of Miguel Peña and Juan Carlos Allende, who accompanied the legendary Chavela Vargas throughout the last 10 years of her career. “When I heard them playing, I fell in love,” Lafourcade said simply. As they worked together, the two men, who are both some 40 years her senior, taught her a deeper way of paying attention: “I had to learn about patience, to let the music get its own spirit and voice.”

Over a year-long period the trio bonded over dinners at Lafourcade’s home, with no real plan for an album in mind: “I was just trying to get closer to the music that I love and to make this project. But I wasn’t really thinking about putting it out,” she said. “It was beautiful because we were rehearsing a lot and we were playing a lot and that gave me the chance to connect to the meaning of the lyrics and the music and the harmonies and the rhythms.” They narrowed down a list of some 100 songs to just the handful that Lafourcade felt would resonate most with her voice and her style.

When Lafourcade’s label, Sony, eventually heard the work, they decided it would make a fitting follow-up for the wildly popular Hasta la Raíz album. By today’s standards, the new work would be a minimalist endeavor: “The rules for the project that I set were that we were going to record with acoustic instruments,” said Lafourcade. “I just wanted acoustical guitars, el cuatro venezolano, jaranas, viruela—all traditional instruments.” Fittingly, they recorded these down-to-earth songs the old-fashioned way, playing full takes acoustically together in a room until the sound, with its perfect imperfections, was what they wanted.

One of the cuts on Musas is a duet of the torch song “Tú Me Acostumbraste” with the inimitable Omara Portuondo, the 86-year-old Cuban chanteuse of Buena Vista Social Club fame.In a video released with the album, you can watch as Lafourcade wraps her voice around Portuondo’s deep and smoky singing in a musical gesture as tender as when she lies down on a couch beside the older woman and gently caresses her head.

Indeed, all of the new videos for Musas demonstrate what masters of image and mood are Lafourcade and her team. The storyline of the vignettes that surround the songs are straightforward: A dance party where each of your hipster friends is more interesting-looking and talented than the next; a drown-your-sorrows-in-tequila scene in which you pour your heart out to two of the greatest acoustic guitarists on the planet. The colors are luscious and rich, the production values are stellar, the characters intriguing. But it is the music itself, a steeped-in-nostalgia yet somehow totally new sound that Lafourcade and her group have created that draws you in and keeps bringing you back.

If you go

What: Natalia Lafourcade, Musas Tour

Where: Olympia Theater, 174 East Flagler St., Miami

When: 8:00 p.m. Friday, June 16

Info: Tickets $35 - $55; olympiatheater.org, (305) 374-2444

 


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