MEET THE ARTBURST WRITERS: MIGUEL ESTEFAN, JR.
The memories of a culture-filled upbringing go back — way back — for singer/dancer/writer Miguel A. Estefan, Jr. So much in fact that he thinks it was in his toddler years, but he’s not quite sure.
He recalls being enrolled in a Montessori school and attending performances at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, where he has a vague recollection of seeing Firebird. The sheer size of the venue made an immediate impact on him. “I was maybe three or four years old and the biggest building I’d visited up to that point was our church in Northwest Miami,” he says. “I figured it was such a big place something really important must happen here. It made an impact on me.”
In fourth grade he performed in Hello Dolly with top hat and cane, and that’s when he “got addicted” he says. He loved Hollywood musicals and watching people join together in song and dance. The movies were an escape for him when his parents were getting divorced.
He also grew up listening to Latin music at family parties, as well as big bands; 1950s sock hop with his mom and 1970s disco with his cousins. On his own, he was drawn to the indie/folk music of the 1960s. When he was 14 his mother bought him a piano and he also studied clarinet. Songwriting wasn’t far behind.
From songwriting he branched out to theater in high school, which led to dance in college. He honed his dance skills at Boston University and NYU, where he was a teaching fellow under dance historian and Village Voice dance critic Debra Jowitt. He counts Bill T Jones and the Arnie Zane Company as his biggest inspiration in terms of modern dance. He also joined the Gay Men’s Chorus in 2003.
Eventually he wrote a pro bono article for ArtZine and after a year of pitching, a chance meeting with Miami Dance Now! Miami co-director Diego Salterini led to an Artburst gig. “Artburst was my way back into the dance world and my first experience with dance in Miami. I am so grateful for the opportunity it has given me to meet artists and enthusiasts and have serious dialogue come out of it,” he says.
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