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My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

The time seems right for Karen Finley to be visiting Miami, to be performing in the black box space of the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse, and to present her latest performance-art manifesto about the current political landscape, “Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.” In the show, which she began developing as a response to the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Finley plays a unicor..

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..

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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, ..

With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..

Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..

Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..

It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..

The end of the 19th century was a golden age for ballet. In 15 years of collaboration, two great Russian geniuses – choreographer Marius Petipa, and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky – produced ballet st..

Here’s a riddle – name the 1892 box office flop panned by critics for lack of seriousness and for casting too many kids, which has now transformed into a force of nature timed to occur yearly..

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..

Pianist-Composer Frederic Rzewski Brings Revolutionary Fervor to Miami

Photo: By Annette Morreau
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If the political movement that saw its birth after the November elections is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender for the role. Rzewski, who makes a rare South Florida appearance Saturday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium to open Tigertail Productions' month-long dance and music festival "Fire," is the real deal. With a lifetime of progressive causes infused in his music, the 78-year-old contemporary pianist has the requisite experience for a concert entitled "Music of Resistance." And age has not dampened his passionate commitment to art as an agent for social change.

Other "Fire" events include "Fire Gods in the Garden," with site-specific dance pieces by Marissa Alma Nick, Carla Forte, Hattie Mae Williams and Pioneer Winter, on April 12 at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens; and New York-based Reggie Wilson and his Fist and Heel Performance Group in "Citizen," April 21 to 22 at Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

Rzewski developed both his political beliefs and his musical talent at an early age. Born in Massachusetts of Polish stock during the waning days of the Great Depression, both of his decidedly apolitical parents were pharmacists who could send him to piano classes at the age of five. His left-leaning piano teacher, Charles Mackey, “used to mix politics in the music,” Rzewski said in a phone interview. “Everybody knew he was supposed to be ‘Red,’ but he was also the best piano teacher.”

This was during the beginning of the McCarthy era. “He taught me all kinds of things, and these were not the kinds of things that good American boys were supposed to know about," Rzewski said. "It didn’t take long before I acquired the nickname in seventh grade of ‘comrade.’”

Centuries of worldwide political rebellion appear in Rzewski’s work. A song from Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916, a melody invoking 1938’s Kristallnacht (the night when violent Nazi persecution of the Jews was unleashed), an anthem from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement—all took on a symbolic value in Rzewski's hands, often different from their composers’ original intent. Rzewski latches on to a popular melody, then revisits, reworks and revives it for audiences who may never have known the original but who can now feel its incantatory pull.

Included on Saturday’s program will be the most famous of these pieces, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated.” The composition is a nearly hour-long exploration of the seemingly limitless possibilities of a fragment of melody that is beautiful, infectious and replete with real-world drama. It is Rzewski’s 1975 answer to the CIA-aided Chilean military coup that saw the overthrow and death of a democratically-elected president, Salvador Allende, and the installation of General Augusto Pinochet, setting off a Latin American reign of terror. Riffing on Sergio Ortega’s emblematic protest song, “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido," Rzewski works and reworks a single melodic line, each time finding a different tone or detail to emphasize. The voices are disparate, but each expresses the same overarching, inspiring idea, much as a group of individuals in the market for a successful revolution must.

Rzewski began writing "The People United" as a response to the disinformation in America regarding the events in Chile. It was, ironically enough, a commission for classic pianist Ursula Oppens to perform in the Kennedy Center as part of the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. Our independence, thought Rzewski, “was about a small country… asserting its right to independence against a large country, which was Britain. Now, 200 years later, the roles are reversed.”

Rzewski will also play a much newer, politically charged work, 2016's “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (Songs of Insurrection No. 3).” His interpretation of the iconic freedom song will surely differ from the one NAACP leaders sang at a sit-in at then Attorney General nominee Jeff Session’s office in January, but the feeling is no doubt the same.

Not all of Rzewski’s work is focused on politics; he's also known simply for making good music. His performances are feats of stamina. He plays with hurricane force, with dangerously fast passages that race down the keyboard, reminding listeners that the piano is indeed a percussion instrument. Technique is essential, and Rzewski admits to purposefully making his compositions difficult in order to weed out lousy would-be performers. Pianists not up to snuff, he says, won’t go near his work.

“There are no bad performances,” he comments wryly. “Music comes first. Whether it’s a baseball cheering song or whatever, the only reason that it catches on is because it’s good music.”

Frederic Rzewski “Music of Resistance,” Fire festival, Miami-Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; 8:30 p.m. Saturday; $35; tigertail.org.


 


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