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Early on in the Argentinean film “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), which makes its U.S. theatrical debut this week, a deceptively quaint and humorous scene takes place between the film’s protagonist, 88-year-old Abraham Bursztein and his young granddaughter. The little girl refuses to join in a family photo with Abraham surrounded by his many grandchildren. When he cajoles and insists, ..

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Mexico City-based theater collective Teatro Ojo's works are constantly evolving. Nothing is ever really finished. That's because they take from every performance. Whatever the audience experiences, observes, feels, and offers feedback, which they highly encourage, all is used, considered, and included in the evolution of the same piece, or introduced into another new work. Two of the ..

“America’s Greatest and Least Known Playwright.”This is how the Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes is referred to several times throughout Michelle Memran’s documentary “The Rest I Make Up,” which makes its Florida debut this Saturday as part of Miami-Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. Fornes has been called the “Mother of Avant-Garde Theater.” Theater giants like Edward A..

“Once” has always been touched with magic. And as anyone who has seen the sublime new production of the show by Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables would tell you, the musical’s spellbinding pull is as powerful as ever. When Irish director-screenwriter John Carney first told the tale of a heartbroken Irish street musician and the spunky Czech pianist who reignites his passion, a 200..

Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

M. John Richard has never hung back from the challenges that shape a life. Not when a knee injury ended his dreams of playing football at Syracuse University. Not when he was persuad..

For many choreographers, a new project is an opportunity to dig into fresh ideas. But for local choreographer Pioneer Winter, his latest work “Reprise” returns to the same terrain he has been..

There are few shortcuts for anyone hoping to make it in ballet, but for black dancers that road has always been particularly arduous. A lack of access to training, scant rewards, and cultura..

For sheer pageantry, there are few dance companies that can rival the Ballet Nacional de España. In its 40th season, with 40 dancers and 11 musicians, Spain’s effusive, no-holds-barred love l..

When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..

He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..

A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..

Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..

Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..

The Geniuses Among Us: Opening of 10th Anniversary of Global Cuba Fest

Photo: Photo by Henry Lopez
Written by: Fernando Gonzalez
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It’s not by chance that the music of Cuban drummer, composer, educator and bandleader Dafnis Prieto unfolds with such purpose.

An accidental immigrant in 1999 — he was living with his wife in Spain when, after a tour through Canada and the United States, his visa to return was denied, so he decided to stay in the United States — Prieto went on to quickly become one of the most respected, and busier drummers in the New York City scene. He also taught at New York University and, in 2011, earned a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship.

He also established his own label, released seven albums featuring several different groups, got two Grammy nominations, published a remarkable treatise about rhythm (A World of Rhythmic Possibilities) and moved to South Florida where, in 2015, he joined the faculty of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. And he’s not slowing down yet. His most recent project is a big band with which he just recorded a new album (Back to the Sunset) scheduled for release next month.

Dafnis Prieto leads his sextet — featuring pianist Manuel Valera; saxophonists Roman Filiu and Peter Apfelbaum; Mike Rodriguez, trumpet; and Ricky Rodriguez, bass — at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse on Saturday as part of the 10th Anniversary celebration of Global Cuba Fest, a collaboration between FUNDarte and Miami Light.

Completing the program next weekend, pianist Omar Sosa, one of the most creative and original members of the musical Cuban diaspora, will be performing at The Light Box on Sunday. Sosa, who in his music and various ensembles weaves many strands of African culture carried and developed by the African diaspora around the world, will be appearing with London-based Senegalese singer and kora player Seckou Keita, presenting their recording Transparent Water next Sunday.

Dafnis Prieto spoke with Artburst recently.

Artburst:What are you going to be presenting with the sextet?

Prieto:We're going to be performing most of the music from the Triangles and Circles album [from 2015] and featuring most of the original guys.

You just finished recording with your big band, expanding your writing palette and your sound. How does it feel now working with your sextet?

Well, now the sextet seems smaller (laughs). It's just my perception at this moment. I'm having a good time. I think they are different babies and I love them all. Obviously, I have much more room to be free with the sextet than with the big band. With the big band I feel like I have a responsibility to be a little bit more precise, more clear and form-oriented. [With the smaller groups] we can take more risks.

Jazz groups are said to be built from the back to front, from the drums up, so to speak. But when hearing your music, probably many people would not guess that the composer, and the band leader, is the drummer. The ensemble writing, rather than the role of drums and rhythm, is the priority. How do you construct your music?

I don´t think [the music is built] from the rhythm up. I think everything is rhythm so I don't worry about it. Everything has rhythm; otherwise we would be listening to a steady hum.

[As for the composing], when I’m writing music I'm not thinking that I'm a drummer. I was a musician before being a drummer. The drum is just an instrument. I could have chosen the saxophone or the piano. People have a tendency of thinking "well, he's a sax player, he must think like this or that." I've written music that does not have any drumming in it or anything to do with drums or music from Cuba.

You have been a very active performer and composer and yet you have remained involved with education for over a decade. What is the most challenging part of teaching?

I've been teaching drums for a long time, but now here [at UM] I've been teaching composition and ensembles and creating different classes. I’ve done a lot of things, including drumming and composition, completely self-taught. The only thing that I was trained for is to be a classical musician — and that's the last thing I have been doing. You always have to think that there is an experience that young students don't have yet. So the difficult part is how to translate this experience into information.

Obviously getting a MacArthur Fellowship is quite an honor, but has that “genius” moniker also brought some burdens with it?

You have the burden of expectations. People say “well, he got a MacArthur, there must be a reason for it” — and they are going to look for it. So at the beginning it was a little bit confusing for me because I felt those expectations. But after awhile, I kind of got used to it. The only thing that I can do is to be sincere with myself and that's what I've been doing and that's the reason why I've got the MacArthur in the first place.


Global Cuba Fest featuring Dafnis Prieto Sextet, March 16 at 8 p.m; and Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita, March 17 at 8 p.m.; The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse 404 NW 26th St., Miami; tickets $15 - $40;, 305.576.4350; FUNDarte, 786.348.0789.




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About The writer

Music writer, associate editor of the Latin GRAMMY Print & Special Projects for The Latin Recording Academy

Emmy-winner and GRAMMY®-nominated writer, critic, and editor Fernando González is the associate editor of The Latin GRAMMY Print & ..

About the Writer

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