Point of View

Adrienne Arsht Center Programming Goes Beyond Miami
September 15, 2009, 8:24 pm
Filed under: About the Center

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s innovative 2008-2009 programming has served as a springboard for local and international artists, propelling their success beyond the Center’s stages in downtown Miami to continued achievement throughout the US and beyond. From the Arsht Center-produced Miami Libre to the innovative and ambitious Jazz Roots, a Larry Rosen Jazz Series, the Arsht Center’s artistic vision and collaborations have traversed our state-of-the-art stages after their Miami engagements to premiere all over the world.

Central to the Center’s programming mission is to expand the boundaries of the performing arts. The Center has nurtured and supported artists – particularly those working and living in our own community – not only by commissioning new works, but also by helping artists develop their ideas through producing and presenting public performances of these works. 

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s first fully-commissioned musical, Miami Libre, broke records during the summer of 2008. This Cuban-American story featured cabaret seating, the hottest dancing this side of the equator and our own resident artist Jencarlos Canela. Toby Gough, the show’s director, gave this show a new life overseas for international audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland as the re-imagined Havana Rumba. The show ran for four weeks to sold-out audiences at the Fringe. Scotland’s national newspaper, The Scottsman, described: “Dazzling dance routines, hot Latin music, snazzy costumes and flagrantly sizzling sexiness make this an uplifting and hugely enjoyable show.”

Slava's Snowshow

Slava's Snowshow

After setting the 2008 record for highest-grossing show to play the Adrienne Arsht Center, Slava’s Snowshow went on to Broadway for a holiday season run. Producer David Foster credits Arsht Center for convincing the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York that the show was capable of achieving commercial success. It was subsequently nominated for a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Engagement.

February 2009 opened with Liberty City, created and performed by Miami’s own April Yvette Thompson. Thompson turned the history of her family, one of Miami’s neighborhoods and her own childhood into this powerful solo show blending fact and imagination. The great reviews and audience reaction inspired her and her co-writer/director, Jessica Blank, to begin work on a sequel- a play that promises to continue Miami’s story.

The Center’s Miami Made Festival, which showcases innovative and groundbreaking work created by artists living and working in South Florida, also made headlines this spring. Commissioned by the Adrienne Arsht Center and Miami Light Project to create a new innovative dance theatre piece as part of the Miami Made program, Rosie Herrera conceived Various Stages of Drowning, which premiered at the Carnival Studio Theater in March, 2009, as part of the Here & Now performance portion of the Miami Made Festival. The world premiere caught the eye of Charles Reinhardt, director of the most acclaimed and most selective showcase of modern dance in the country, the American Dance Festival. A short two weeks after her premiere, Herrera got a call from Reinhardt himself inviting her to participate in the Festival. Funded in part by the Arsht Center, Herrera recreated her original choreography with some of the best young modern dancers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Russia, and America.

Rosie Herrera's Various Stages of Drowning

Rosie Herrera's Various Stages of Drowning

This summer’s blockbuster Miami engagement of Fuerza Bruta will have a long lasting effect on the show’s producers and creative team. The addition of the post-show lounge element, The G-Lounge, with a live DJ, art exhibits, and of course Barton G’s signature nitro cocktails, enhanced the performance for the artists and the audience. Two weeks after the show opened in Miami, the New York producers announced they were inspired to create The D-Lounge at the Daryl Roth Theatre in New York. All touring engagements of Fuerza Bruta world-wide will also include the lounge element in order to achieve the entire experience that Adrienne Arsht Center succeeded in creating here in Miami.

2009 marks the second year for the Jazz Roots, a Larry Rosen Jazz Series. When Arsht Center teamed up with music producer and television great, Larry Rosen, last season for the creation of Jazz Roots, all parties involved realized what they were shaping was unmistakably the most innovative jazz series anywhere in the country. Confident that the six-concert series was going to be popular with South Floridians, the Arsht Center team hoped Jazz Roots would become a nationally-recognized series playing in other cities and redefine the way Jazz is presented in other major US cities. That dream became a reality in July when Dallas Center for the Performing Arts announced that the Jazz Roots series and education program would also be presented at the brand new performing arts center.

2008-2009 allowed the Adrienne Arsht Center to contribute to the growing reputation of Miami as a cultural center of international importance through its innovative programming and creative support as an incubator for the performing arts. As well, Miami’s diverse audiences have prompted producers, artists and collaborators to think about their productions in a new and exciting ways leading to new levels of success and development.


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