Evolutions at Miami Made
Never assume that because an artist performs in his or her city’s premier arts venue that they’ve reached their pinnacle. Sometimes, performing there is just the beginning of bigger and better things, like reaching new audiences, or being discovered and catapulted to other markets. And that’s what the Miami Made Festival, now in its fifth season, and its home the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, can help artists do. “You think about New York, Chicago, L.A., as places where new work is created, but really, I believe that Miami-based artists are creating some of the most exciting art anywhere in the country,” says the Arsht Center’s executive vice president, Scott Shiller, who’s been involved with Miami Made Festival since its inception. From Feb. 26 to March 3, the Miami Made Festival 2013 — now with new philanthropic sponsors including the Riviera South Beach hotel on board — features a week-long plethora of events that include, free of charge, staged play readings, pop-up performances, and a dance showcase. The twist here is that these are works in progress, which first come to life at the Arsht Center in previous incarnations, and are now ready for the broader world to see their evolution. Last year the dance highlight was the almost evolved work from the much-acclaimed Rosie Herrera Dance Theater, Dining Alone, which will make its fully formed premiere in New York at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in April. This year the focus is on Cuban-American Letty Bassart, a choreographer, dancer, and writer who in a previous life was a hospice nurse and, you guessed it, an epidemiologist. “It’s so powerful to be able to show your work in a place where there’s a certain level of production and support in terms of resources, and it’s really interesting too that this particular support comes for a work that has been seen in a very raw kind of state, and that they’re willing to invest in its growth,” says the Miami native. “That is something that is so rare.” Bassart’s dance piece Good, God, Go, whose first iteration goes back to 2010’s Miami Made edition, will be showcased on March 2 at 3:00 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m., at the Carnival Studio Theater in the Arsht’s Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. All that you need to know for now is that this work features a trio of dancers, animation and film, sculpture, a cappella singing, a marching band, and 50-plus wooden canaries (yes, wooden canaries.) “Miami Made Festival is a step further, not just a launch of these ideas as a work in progress, but it’s also the recognition of the development of these ideas, which is incredibly humbling,” says the 2012 Knight Arts Challenge grant recipient. For Bassart and her Miami Made Festival colleagues, more good news may be on the way. “This year’s festival really represents sort of a new commitment to the Miami Made program,” says Shiller. “Out of all of the projects that are being done this year, the Arsht Center will likely produce some, if not all of these, as fully developed works in our future seasons.” Along with the Good, God, Go, other highlights include: Pop-Up Performance: Extended Stay from the Project [Theatre], in the style of reality TV, Feb. 26 & 27 at 9:00 p.m. at the Riviera South Beach Hotel, 2000 Liberty Ave., Miami Beach. Staged Play Reading: Fear Up Harsh, based on a military phrase that refers to “enhanced interrogation,” Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Carnival Studio Theater, Arsht Center. Staged Play Reading: Two-Merz, dark comedy about brothers with cancer, March 3 at 4:00 p.m. at the Carnival Studio Theater, Arsht Center. All are free on first come first seated basis; www.arshtcenter.org.