YoungArts Miami Hosts Future Stars in Music, Dance, and More

Written By Tracy Fields
December 30, 2017 at 8:06 PM


Every great star was once an unknown kid.

The National YoungArts foundation is dedicated to finding and nurturing such youths. From March 8-13, about 80 students, aged 15 to 18 and talented in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts, will gather here for YoungArts Miami.

The week offers them an opportunity to work with masters in their fields. It also offers the public a chance to see future stars before they become household names.

“These artists are truly the best young artists in the country,” said Vanessa Leitman, the foundation’s vice president of external relations and communications. She added that the Miami cohort is one of three regional groups totaling several hundred chosen from some 12,000 hopefuls nationwide. “Sometimes I think the people don’t realize the level of creativity they’re going to get.”

YoungArts alumni include actors Viola Davis and Kerry Washington, recording star Nicki Minaj and jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran. He’s artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center and winner of a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant.”

The week-long intensive in Miami offers a wide variety of experiences to match the array of disciplines represented. For example, the design students will work with the noted architectural firm Arquitectonica on a bus shelter charrette. Classical musicians will study with the New World Symphony. Photographers customarily do an outdoor project.

“Sometimes the teachers use the session more to talk to them about a specific topic, or about their career, trials and tribulations,” Leitman said. “Each teacher sort of handles their classes and sessions a little bit differently depending on what they think is going to be the most beneficial for these young artists.”

This year’s instructors include director and producer Joan Scheckel, famed for her filmmaking workshops; journalist and author Joan Morgan; and jazz pianist Spike Wilner. Also on hand will be YoungArts alumni Yara Travieso, who’s originally from Miami and took honors in dance in 2005; and Jen Waldman, 1993 theater winner.

The public gets to check out the students’ efforts March 10-12. The visual arts, design and photography exhibit opens on Thursday at the YoungArts campus on Biscayne Boulevard. Also Thursday, the jazz musicians will play, writers will read and cinematic work will be screened.

Friday and Saturday are devoted to theater, voice, dance and music performances at the Colony Theater on Miami Beach.

Leitman loves to see the reaction of first-time audience members. “The thing for me is when somebody new comes to something and they’re just like in shock because they can’t believe what they just saw.”

The Visual Arts, Design & Photography Exhibition opens at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the YoungArts Campus, 2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The Jazz, Writers’ Readings and Cinematic Arts Screenings begin there at 7:30; admission is free. Theater, Voice, Dance and Music performances take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. General admission is $15; YoungArts members pay $10, students and alumni $5. More information and tickets at



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