Point of View


AILEYCAMP MIAMI SET TO LEAP INTO TOWN
June 28, 2010, 9:33 pm
Filed under: AileyCamp

“I will pay attention with my mind, body, and spirit.  I will listen to learn.  I am in control.  I am a winner!” — AileyCamper

Yes, indeed!  AileyCamp Miami returns – with these positive, daily affirmations as a cornerstone of the curriculum – for the second year to the Adrienne Arsht Center, June 28–August 7.  

This year, the program expands from 80 to 100 campers, with 20 campers from last year’s inaugural camp session returning for another summer of inspired dance education and personal development.  In an exciting local twist, Miami native, graduate of the New World School of the Arts, and former Alvin Ailey company member, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, returns to the Center as a special AileyCamp faculty member.   

Students from all 61 public middle schools in Miami-Dade County were invited to apply for this full scholarship camp experience which includes camp tuition, uniforms, dance attire, three exciting field trips, breakfast, lunch, and transportation, all at no cost to campers and their families.  

Founded by Alvin Ailey in 1989, this innovative program uses dance as a vehicle for self-esteem and empowerment, and culminates with a final performance spotlighting all 100 dancers on the Knight Concert Hall stage on August 7.

AileyCamp is designed for at-risk or underserved youth in grades 6-8 who may not otherwise have access to the performing arts.  This year’s camp features a full six-week session, with daily technique classes in ballet, Horton-based modern dance, jazz, and West African dance.  Campers also participate in creative communication classes, developing confidence and skills in the areas of goal-setting, self-government, and self image. 

“Through the transformative power of the performing arts, the discipline of dance will translate into a sense of self worth, self esteem, and positive empowerment for 100 young people from South Florida this summer. AileyCamp Miami represents the crossroads of the Adrienne Arsht Center and Alvin Ailey Foundation missions – where world class arts and community-based programs meet and change lives.” — M. John Richard, president and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center

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Volunteer Leader Presents Family Fest, Jonathan Stout
June 28, 2010, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Volunteerism

The Adrienne Arsht Center presents Family Fest, a free series featuring family-friendly out-of-doors activities and performances! Your entire family will have a blast at this fun-filled day full of music, dancing, hands-on demonstrations, and mini-workshops. 

Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?  And believe me it is.  But that small enticing paragraph deceptively hides all the intricate moving parts and behind-the-scenes activity that it takes to bring such an event to life for our community.

How do I know?  Last October I had the honor of being selected as the volunteer leader assisting with the coordination of this season’s Family Fest series.  I have been a volunteer with the Adrienne Arsht Center since its grand opening in 2006 as an usher and ticket-taker and now I was given the opportunity to do even more.

Jonathan Stout

So, what is it like to put on a celebration showcasing hundreds of performers and entertaining thousands of families and fellow South Floridians? In a word: Exciting.  Family Fest events run on Saturdays, but the planning and preparation goes on for months in advance.  That is where the Center’s staff from all the various departments each contribute to that singular goal – enriching the community. 

But those caring individuals who work at the Center are only half the picture.  I would bet that their numbers are equally matched, and possibly exceeded by the large foundation on which this event rests.  Of course, I am referring to our volunteers. 

Under the leadership of Evelyn Gigiras and Carolyn Woodyer, the Center has put together an outstanding core of dedicated and civic-minded volunteers who have taken on the Adrienne Arsht vision of supporting the arts, the community and the idea that giving back is its own reward.

Each Family Fest event and the activities, has its own theme, which weaves itself into the content of the free performances offered directly after the festival.  For instance, one particularly engaging motif  was the “Step Afrika” experience.  There were hundreds of children, all making African shakers as colorful as nature itself.  They were decorated with fanciful feathers and stitched with twine.  Filled with rumbling beads, they made a joyful sound as the youth practiced with their newly created instruments.  And it was not just the kids in the group that participated, if you know what I mean.

Along with the musical performances in the sun washed outdoor Parker and Vann Thompson Plaza for the Arts, participants could also take part in a “movement class” being offered in the Peacock Foundation Studio.  At the class, the assembled listened to some background and instruction on the art of movement, and then were directed to try it themselves.  They gathered, as a group, expressed themselves spiritedly and many found a little something inside they had not known before.

Then there was food and laughter, dancing and face painting, roaming characters and more.  At the later part of the day, nearly two thousand headed into the Knight Concert Hall for the free Step Afrika performance, on stage for a one hour show.  And when the day’s events started to come to a close it was only just beginning.  Because children and adults alike went home happy, satisfied and with a new love that only comes from new experiences.

And how was that all possible?  With Volunteers!  It takes a large number of people willing to help to make sure it all goes well: to keep the kids motivated to try new things; to open their eyes to new wonders; to give them life awareness and to help them with their scissors and glue.  Volunteering is not just about showing up – it’s about giving back.  It is about the time you share with others, and the common goals that are reached through working together.

My role as a volunteer leader is merely a conduit to funnel all this goodness in the right direction.  I cannot make sure the projects are getting created, the faces are getting painted, the dance movements are graceful and meaningful, or the artists appear on stage at the right time, but I know I can count of my volunteers to do that.  I thank them for their contribution to the arts, their community and to the Center.



Meet the Arsht Center Interns
June 28, 2010, 9:25 pm
Filed under: About the Center

The Adrienne Arsht Center offers students the opportunity to be a part of its creative marketing team through its internship program each semester. Interns are guided through a learning experience as they participate in meetings, review budgets and brainstorm ideas. This summer, the Center’s marketing department welcomes a tremendously diverse and motivated group of young people.

Meet Youssouf Coulibaly, a Visual Effects and Motion Graphics student at the Miami International University of Art and Design. He applied for the internship hoping “to become a professional in Graphic Design” and “to learn the business.” While assisting the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist, Youssouf has been working on tasks such as design of layouts for placement on the internet.

Kristin Farnsworth, an International Finance and Marketing student at the University of Miami, arrived at the Center hoping to blend her interests. “This is an opportunity I saw to involve both my love of the arts and my interest in marketing,” she commented.

As a Marketing student at Florida International University, Zeinab Salmanzadeh came to the Center seeking to work within her field of study. “The most important thing to me is to believe in the product or service that I am marketing,” she says, “like what we do at the Center, where the community benefits from our service.” Since her first day at the Center, Zeinab has been assisting the Promotions Manager in preparing promotions for Tap Dogs, the tap dancing sensation!

Agustin Trotti has been assisting in creating event budgets and working closely with TV stations. A Marketing student at Florida International University, Agustin came to the Center looking for an internship that would not only allow him to develop skills in marketing, but also grant him the opportunity to apply his new skills.

An English student at Florida International University, Anna Xiques was eager to use her writing skills in her internship experience. “My interest in the arts and a desire to work in a creative environment led me to the Center,” she said.  “Working with the Center’s Creative Director on copy writing has helped me gain insight on writing skills that play an important role in marketing.” “I have been given the opportunity, on many occasions, to revise and edit written materials before they are printed. It is an honor to feel like such an important asset to this organization.”.

With a welcoming team and a lineup of promising shows and events, the internship program is proving to be an exciting experience.

For more information on Adrienne Arsht Center internship opportunities, e-mail kking@arshtcenter.org.



LISA LOEB TAKES MIAMI BY STORM
June 28, 2010, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Family Fun

Lisa Loeb strummed her way into our hearts with her cat-eye glasses and memorable lyrics (“You say, I only hear what I want to, I don’t listen hard, I don’t pay attention to the distance that you’re running to anyone, anywhere…”) and now she’s in our own South Florida backyard, taking Miami by storm! 

Lisa Loeb at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the premiere of her first musical, Camp Kappawanna.

A new mom, Lisa has spent the past few years focusing on kid-friendly music, and on June 17th the Adrienne Arsht Center was proud to host the premiere of her very first full-length musical, CAMP KAPPAWANNA.  Lisa came to Miami, baby in tow, to celebrate all things camp, and even sang about it on every morning TV show from NBC to ABC and Deco Drive too!  Miami kids got a terrific treat when Lisa joined 200 young people from underserved communities to watch a special preview performance of CAMP KAPPAWANNA, hosted by the Adrienne Arsht Center in partnership with the Children’s Trust.  Lisa also sang and signed CDs at the Miami Children’s Museum, and made a memorable mark on Miami when she performed the national anthem at the June 16th Marlin’s game.

Rainy days at camp, featuring the cast of Camp Kappawanna at the Adrienne Arsht Center.



In Search of the Next Rock Odyssey Stars
June 28, 2010, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Rock Odyssey

Rock Odyssey, the rock ‘n roll musical treat that delighted tens of thousands of Miami-Dade school children at the Adrienne Arsht Center earlier this year, returns this fall to bring the magic of live theater to a new class of 5th graders! 

Dozens of would-be gods and heroes auditioned for the chance to perform on the Knight Concert Hall stage when a new production of Rock Odyssey, the Broadway-style musical based on Homer’s Odyssey, returns this September.

Photo by Manny Hernandez

A program of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Learning Through the Arts initiative and a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Rock Odyssey offers 26,000 fifth grade students each school year the opportunity to see a live performance in a world-class performing arts center completely free of charge to students and to schools. The experience extends beyond the theater and into the classroom through an in-class curriculum package, created in partnership with World Book, that is provided to all teachers in the school system, also free of charge.



Miami’s Fiercest Tappers Compete in the Miami Tap Pups Competition
June 28, 2010, 9:19 pm
Filed under: At the Center

This past Saturday, June 19th, the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Ziff Ballet Opera House Stage came alive with the sound of Miami’s fiercest young tappers competing for the chance to be named the Miami Tap Pups and perform opening night of the international dance hit Tap Dogs, performing at the Arsht Center June 30th through July 10th

Each competing tap crew, comprised of three to fifteen dancers under the age of 18, were required to learn the Tap Dogs routine as outlined in the instructional video supplied to dance schools throughout Miami.  The first round of competition began early in the morning, where three judges eliminated nearly half of the competing crews, leaving only seven finalists to compete in the final round before an audience.  At 11am, the stage doors opened to the public for the Tap Pups Competition and Dance Arcade, featuring the competing tap crews, great music and an array of Dance, Dance Revolution interactive video games for the audience to compete amongst themselves.

Judges Scott Shiller, Executive Vice President of the Adrienne Arsht Center; choreographer and Tap Dogs performer Christopher Erk; and, Lauren Nedelman, a recent graduate from the Boston Conservatory who will be touring with the production of “Fiddler on the Roof” this fall, commented and deliberated on each crew’s performance.  The audience participated as fourth judge in the competition via text voting in real time, powered by Red Fish Media.

The judges deliberate – Christopher Erk, Tap Dog, Scott Shiller, Executive Vice President, Adrienne Arsht Center, and Lauren Nedelman, Fiddler on the Roof, at the Adrienne Ar

The obvious crowd favorite, the Loose Screws Crew from Focal Point Dance Studio, stole the competition with 24% of the audience vote.  Loose Screws dancers Alyssa (13 years old), Steve (15 years old), Bianca (16 years old), Michelle (16 years old), Sarah (16 years old), and Michelle (16 years old) will perform as the Miami Tap Pups with the cast of Tap Dogs on opening night.

The winning crew! Loose Screws from Focal Point Dance Studio onstage at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Tap Pups Competition.

The Rhythm Explosion Crew from ABC Dance Studio came in 2nd Place, and Tappers R Us from the Roxy Theater Group were our 3rd Place winners. Other competing tap crews to perform in the final round of competition were the Next Generation Crew from Next Generation Dance Academy, the Tapology Crew from Just Dance It / Performance Edge 2, the Out of Control Crew from Dance Gallery, and the Underdogs from the Roxy Theater Group.

Christopher Erk, member of the Tap Dogs cast, with local tap dance students who participated in a Master Class on the stage Adrienne Arsht Center stage.

All competing tap crews received a Culture Shock Miami goodie bag loaded with fun stuff for each dancer, courtesy of the competition’s promotional partner Culture Shock Miami.  Our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners each receive a pair of tickets to opening night of Tap Dogs for each dancer.



Arsht Center Takes On the Tony Awards
June 28, 2010, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Performing Arts News

Members of the Adrienne Arsht Center Board of Directors and executive team celebrated talent and glamour last week at Radio City Music Hall during the 64th Annual Tony Awards, offering moral support for our “family” of performers.

The reigning performances from last season- which included Billy Elliot, Hair, Shrek The Musical, Rock of Ages and West Side Story, were no match for this season’s record-breaking ticket sellers honoring musicals that provide a playground for Tinseltown’s A-listers and a stage for Afrobeat, Blues, Frank Sinatra and rock and roll to live together in harmony.

Winning Best Musical and three other categories was the original story set in the American South in the 1950s, Memphis. Two-time Academy award winner Denzel Washington and Tony-winner Viola Davis became the first black performers to win best actor and best actress award in the same season.

The life of the party, host Sean Hayes delivered steamy scenes with co-host Kristen Chenoweth and continued the night with comical wardrobe selections and poking fun at both Hollywood and Broadway.

Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane - stars of the Addams Family; Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards

One of Hayes’ co-stars in Promises, Promises, scene-stealing Miamian, Katie Finneran, won for best featured actress in a musical. Best featured actor in a musical went to Levi Kreis as rock ‘n’ roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet.

The nights biggest winner, Red, took home Best Play and five other categories, including Best Direction. Back in a revival from the 1984 original, “La Cage aux Folles” took home three awards including Best Musical Revival and Best Actor.

Greenday also took the stage, performing scores from the acclaimed musical American Idiot.

Never has there been a dominant presence of Hollywood actors in Broadway, ranging from Scarlett Johansson, to heart-throb Wolverine actor- Hugh Jackman. A victory for Hollywood actors followed nearly all acting nominations, including Catherine Zeta-Jones in the musical about love’s endless possibilities “A Little Night Music” and Johannsen’s first Tony for “View From the Bridge”. Other notable nominees were Jude Law in Hamlet, and Red’s Alfred Molina.

Overall, the Tonys demonstrated a resilient Broadway family and that more than ever, the presentation has grown to mainstream popularity. 

 Can’t wait for next year!




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