Point of View

July 21, 2010, 2:54 pm
Filed under: Performing Arts News

One name comes to mind when the words dance, surrealism, Latin soul and drag queens come together in the headlines. The talents of the fiercely quirky Rosie Herrera, New World School of the Arts graduate and established choreographer, have again captured the attention of dance fanatics on the national level. The Hialeah visionary was invited back for the second year in a row to the American Dance Festival in North Carolina, bringing with her the world premiere of Pity Party, commissioned by the American Dance Festival and the Adrienne Arsht Center. Hosted at Duke University, the American Dance Festival (ADF) is the largest, most distinguished and selective showcase of modern dance in the country. Uniting choreographers, dancers, teachers, critics, musicians and scholars alike from around the world, ADF prides itself on being “One of the nation’s most important institutions” (New York Times).

Choreographer Rosie Herrera, photo from Miami Herald

Various Stages of Drowning: A Cabaret, the piece that originally catapulted Herrera to national prominence, premiered at the 2009 HERE & NOW new works festival in the Center’s Carnival Studio Theater, co-presented by Miami Light Project and the Adrienne Arsht Center. It crossed traditional arts boundaries by incorporating multiple media of art-dance, theater, opera, cabaret, and video along with a unique list of characters—drag queens, bakers, and a 4-year-old, to list a few. She successfully pulled together a piece that mimicked a dream-like state and it caught the eyes of the director of the prestigious American Dance Festival.

Earlier this year, Herrera returned once more as a guest artist to HERE & NOW, where she presented a preview of another brand new piece titled Dining Alone that focuses on solitude and aging. Also commissioned by ADF and the Adrienne Arsht Center, the dance will receive its official premiere at the American Dance Festival in July 2011.

Photo of Herrera's new dance, Pity Party, by Eric Madrid

With such an exciting track record, the arts audiences and presenters alike are waiting in anticipation to see what Herrera will bring to the stage next.

The World Premiere of Herrera’s Pity Party took place at ADF on Monday, July 12. The Adrienne Arsht Center is brimming with pride for the local’s success and is excited to watch as one of its own continues to stun the world with her gale force talent.  Check out the first-hand behind-the-scenes account at ADF with our very own Scott Shiller, Executive VP of the Adrienne Arsht Center, here. 


Lucie and Desi (Re)Make Miami History!
July 21, 2010, 2:45 pm
Filed under: At the Center

For more than a half-century, the legendary entertainment couple—Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz – has held the key to America’s heart—and, after 1954, they also held the Key to the City of Miami!

When their children – Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. – arrived in Miami last week to celebrate their father’s legacy with a four-day engagement of Babalu—a concert tribute to Desi’s music at the Adrienne Arsht Center—they, too, won the hearts of our community and earned the Key to the City of Miami. Joined by City of Miami officials and a barrage of media, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Lucie and Desi recreated the famous photo their parents took outside City Hall in 1954 when Miami first welcomed them with open arms.

Mid-1950s scene of the I Love Lucy cast taken behind City Hall with then mayor, Randy Christmas

Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. with Miami Mayor Regalado recreate their parents’ famous photo in front of City Hall. Photo by Manny Hernandez.

Nearly 60 years later, we still love Lucy—and Desi!

July 21, 2010, 2:40 pm
Filed under: At the Center

The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County proudly announce FALL FOR THE ARTS FESTIVAL, with presenting sponsor John S. and James L. Knight Foundation—a free festival transforming the Adrienne Arsht Center into Miami’s town square and creating an opportunity for the community to experience, enjoy, and engage with the best of Miami’s arts organizations.  All local arts organizations have been invited to join together in an effort to celebrate South Florida’s thriving arts scene and preview the diverse array of Miami’s arts offerings for the coming season.  Furthermore, FALL FOR THE ARTS FESTIVAL also includes a significant community service component, with local community service agencies invited to participate and share information about their programming and volunteer opportunities, all at no cost to each participating organization.

From 12 noon to 6 p.m. the FALL FOR THE ARTS FESTIVAL experience will feature two performance stages, booths representing a wide variety of Miami-Dade arts and community service organizations, street food vendors, children’s activities, and community service seminars to address community-based issues such as ecology/conservation, community growth, education, and human services. 

 Coinciding with the festival, single tickets for a tremendous selection of more than 30 Adrienne Arsht Center shows will go on sale for the very first time, and available for purchase in person with no ticket fees!

Interested non-profit organizations can download an application form starting July 23, 2010, at arshtcenter.org/fall

July 21, 2010, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Awards and Recognition

 This past month, the Adrienne Arsht Center was proud to accept recognition from Haute Living magazine for being one of the top 5 family-friendly venues of Miami. Distinguishing the Center as a welcoming and inspiring institution, Haute Living marks it as a family hotspot and a treasure trove of must-see performances. The magazine’s attention was drawn by the positive reaction of the Center’s summer musical for kids: Camp Kappawanna.


Just one year ago the Center’s Family Fest series was recognized by South Florida Parenting magazine as the best way to introduce kids to the performing arts. The standard then was set high, and the Center has lived up to its expectations and raised the bar even higher this summer season. The Center is continually striving to encourage excitement about the arts for young theatergoers. 

The world premiere of Camp Kappawanna was presented jointly by City Theatre (which commissioned the work) and The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. A celebration of timeless summer camp experiences, it featured hip, cool music and lyrics by Grammy® Award-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb and a script by rising national playwright and South Florida native Marco Ramirez.  The play was just one of many family-oriented performances at the Adrienne Arsht Center, and audiences can look forward to another year of theatrical fun for the whole family!

July 21, 2010, 2:22 pm
Filed under: At the Center

The International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF) of Miami is celebrating a significant milestone this summer— 25 years of bringing to South Florida some of the best Spanish-language and Hispanic-themed theatrical productions from throughout this country and around the world.  Presented jointly with Teatro Avante and American Airlines, the Center is proud to help make possible this annual celebration of Hispanic artistic achievement in one of our country’s liveliest centers of Hispanic culture. The International Hispanic Theatre Festival helps fulfill several of the Center’s most important programming goals—to present not just the highest quality work from around the world, but also work that speaks directly to its community.

 IHTF kicked off this summer July 7th at the Center’s intimate Carnival Studio Theater (which is located inside the Ziff Ballet Opera House) and continues with performances Wednesdays through Sundays until the first of August. For the first time in its history, the IHTF dedicates its entire season to Mexico, honoring and celebrating that country’s immeasurable contribution to Hispanic culture.

On view this year are 14 plays originating from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and the United States.  While most performances are in Spanish—some with English supertitles—Brazil’s Os Sonhos de Segismundo is performed in Portuguese with Spanish supertitles. Please visit arshtcenter.org for a complete schedule of productions.

Thanks to director Beatriz J. Rizk, Prometeo Theatre and major support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Festival’s lively educational component, held at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, includes post-performance forums, a theater conference, workshops, staged readings, photography and art exhibits, and video and book presentations.

The guiding light and driving force of the Festival—and the person largely responsible for its impressive history—is Mario Ernesto Sanchez. Producing Assistant Director of Teatro Avante and The International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami, Sanchez has worked to assure the IHTF’s invaluable presence in South Florida for these 25 exciting years.

July 21, 2010, 2:16 pm
Filed under: AileyCamp

AileyCamp Miami is in full swing at the Adrienne Arsht Center with 100 Miami-Dade County young people leaping through the air and bounding through the halls every day!  The full-scholarship camp began on June 28 and runs through August 7, providing a dynamic program of daily dance instruction and personal development courses for local middle-schoolers. 

On July 7, campers had a special treat when the cast of Tap Dogs, the internationally acclaimed stage sensation that played the Ziff Ballet Opera House, stopped by AileyCamp for two hours of thrilling tapping and inspiring discussion of the life of a professional dancer.  The Tap Dogs demonstrated some of their famous stage skills, including the thunderous percussion, urban swagger, and easygoing humor that had the AileyCamp kids shrieking in sheer delight.  Campers also had the chance to try out some of the tappers moves.  Tap Dog Dominic Mortezadeh, who is a robust 17 years old, was a big hit with the campers, who range in age from 11-14, and could imagine themselves filling his world-class tap shoes in just a few short years. 

Then on July 13, AileyCamp opened its doors to all the campers’ parents and guardians, who joined in the fun, observing classes in modern dance, ballet, West African, jazz, and personal skill-building.  Nearly 200 family members flooded the Adrienne Arsht Center to support their youngsters, and raise their voices in the AileyCamp affirmations: “I will keep a positive attitude all day, every day.  I will treat others with courtesy and respect at all times.  I will not use the word ‘can’t’ to define my possibilities.” 

AileyCamp Miami culminates with an all-camp performance on August 7.

July 6, 2010, 8:42 pm
Filed under: AileyCamp, My POV

Hi, my name is Debhorha Guerra,  I’m 15 years old, and I was part of the inaugural year of AileyCamp Miami 2009. I had an awesome experience at AileyCamp. The personal development classes helped me increase my self-esteem; they helped me understand many of the changes I was going through as a teenager.  The creative communication classes were extremely helpful; these classes helped me to communicate better and in many creative ways.  All the dance classes helped me gain strength and confidence while at the same time helped me to let go of all the stress and pressure I was going through as an average teenager.  The teachers at the Camp were always enthusiastic and ready to help whenever needed.  Even the Camp’s field trips enhanced the overall experience, and created bonds between the campers in a fun atmosphere.  AileyCamp Miami exceeded all my expectations.  It provided a great combination of education, new experiences, friendships and excitement.

After such a fantastic experience I was saddened by the fact that I was not going to be able to return to AileyCamp this summer because of the age limit. The program had such a profound impact on me that I was determined to be involved this year in any way possible. Already a volunteer at the Adrienne Arsht Center, I was pleased to find out that I could volunteer for AileyCamp Miami 2010 as well.  This gives me the opportunity to have the same impact on others as I received while being a Camp member.  

As a volunteer this year, I have gained a completely new perspective on the Camp.  I saw how hard staff and administration work to make the Camp flow easily for the campers.  I also realized how much they are informed on teenage behavior in order to enhance the campers’s experience.  Also as a volunteer, I see the amazing growth of the campers, and I find it astounding to think that that was me just one year ago. 

It has been a rewarding experience so far as a volunteer.  I look forward to the upcoming weeks.  It was marvelous to be a camper and it is proving just as marvelous to be a volunteer.

July 6, 2010, 7:57 pm
Filed under: My POV

This week, Raúl Esparza comes home to perform in the production of Babalu: Lucie Arnaz Celebrates the Music of her Father, Desi Arnaz in the Knight Concert Hall.  This will be Raúl’s first time performing for his hometown audience as a Tony-nominated actor. As Cuban-Americans, we take great pride that Raúl was chosen to serve tribute to a Cuban celebrity by honoring the music and legacy of Desi Arnaz. 

Raúl and I began our friendship well before we were born. Our families were so close that the lines between “friends” were quickly blurred into “family.”  We were both born to Cuban parents in Wilmington, Delaware, months apart and grew up as cousins.  We shared family events, childhood summers, celebrated birthdays and marriages.

There is one summer, out of many, that stands out. We were about 12, and we were spending several weeks with Raúl’s aunt and uncle, who are my parents’ best friends, at their apartment on Miami Beach. It was a summer filled with lots of love and great fun. We spent our days in the water, visited the zoo, went to see movies like ET, and made up games. One game became our summer obsession… it was a game of “Who Dunnit” with four characters each of us had to act out in order to solve a crime. We would make up the story as we went along and each storyline and performance was more outrageous and dramatic than the one before. Our imaginative, elaborate stories rivaled those seen on “Law and Order.” Raúl would approach each part with such enthusiasm and passion that he would stop us in our tracks.

It did not surprise me that Raul would become an actor. He was talented from the start and was committed to learning and worked hard to perfect his talent.  It’s been with great pride that we have been able to see him perform in many different cities in a variety of performances where he consistently draws his audience into the lives of each character he portrays. 

Whenever possible, we always visit Raúl backstage after a performance. As we were leaving the theater with him after a recent performance in New York, he mentioned that he was feeling a little run down. My mother quickly went to him and buttoned up his coat, wrapped the scarf around his neck and told him: “Cuidate hijo”.  He is a four-time Tony-nominated stage actor, a performer on TV and in the movies, a phenomenal singer, and he will always be part of our “family.” 

Tessie Alvarez Bravo
Senior Program Director
Hands On Miami

July 6, 2010, 7:56 pm
Filed under: At the Center

In celebration of the opening of BABALU, a thrilling stage tribute to the music of Desi Arnaz, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. are set to bring swiveling hips and conga classics to Miami and beyond in celebration of the seminal role their father played in this country’s Latin music explosion.  The BABALU bonanza started at Books & Books, Coral Gables, on July 3, where the Emmy Award-winning actress took the audience on a trip down memory lane, recounting treasured memories about her 40-plus years in show business, and her beloved father’s musical genius. 

Lucie Arnaz; photo by Agustus Butera

On July 4, Lucie kicked off the Coconut Grove fireworks celebration in grand DesiLu style, channeling her mother’s fantastic stage presence and her father’s famous panache!  Miami-Dade County honored both Lucie and Desi Jr. on July 6th when County Commissioner Souto presented the talented Arnaz siblings with the Key to the County at the Adrienne Arsht Center.  On July 9, Desi and Lucie plan to recreate the famous 1954 photo taken at Miami’s City Hall with then Mayor Randy Christmas.  This time Mayor Regalado will join the Arnaz clan for a historic photo honoring their family’s special place in the heart of Miami.  Of course, the real magic will happen on stage when Broadway star and Miami native Raúl Esparza, plus dance diva Valarie Pettiford, and Miami City Ballet principal Jeanette Delgado all join Lucie and Desi on stage with a 15-piece orchestra playing Desi’s greatest hits!  BABALU runs at the Adrienne Arsht Center July 8-11, 2010.

Desi Arnaz Jr; photo by Challenge Roddie

July 6, 2010, 7:54 pm
Filed under: At the Center

A few weeks ago, the Adrienne Arsht Center came alive with the sound of Miami’s fiercest young tappers, competing for the chance to be named the MIAMI TAP PUPS and perform during the opening night encore number of Tap Dogs, the explosive international dance show that’s igniting the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage through July 10.

More than 80 young tappers from throughout Miami battled for the title and the winning crew, Loose Screws, a dymanic ensemble of six young teens, wowed the professional judges with their technical prowess and dynamic stage presence. 

The Miami Tap Pups get the chance to dance onstage, opening night with the TAP DOGS at the Adrienne Arsht Center!

After the opening night performance, three of the Pups shared some of their thoughts and emotions with us.

“Performing onstage in Tap Dogs was truly a once in a lifetime experience that made our dreams a reality,” said Sarah Ponczek.   “The feeling that I felt when we were onstage, looking out at the audience and dancing with the Tap Dogs backing us, can’t be explained by words.  I can’t thank Tap Dogs enough for this tremendous opportunity.”

“My hands were shaking and my teeth were chattering right before we went on stage to dance with the legendary Tap Dogs,” said  Bianca Bovo.  “Looking out into the Ziff Ballet Opera House and seeing the crowd was just an incredible experience. After we finished, the audience just stood and applauded, which made me feel like a rock star. It was just great to receive applause for doing something that we love to do.”

The TAP DOGS with the winners of the Arsht Center tap competition, the MIAMI TAP PUPS, after they made the PUPS debut performance alongside the DOGS

“Participating in the Tap Pups competition and performing on opening night were two of the most incredible experiences that will forever be imprinted in my heart and mind,” says Michelle Fergis. “It was amazing to be able to experience being treated as true professional dancers. It was an honor to share the same stage with my good friends in Loose Screws and also with the amazingly talented Tap DogS cast!  After the show it was unbelievable to be praised as talented artists, and was very thankful for the opportunity. I am so grateful that Ms. Amanda Tae had guided us the whole way through. The whole experience was fun, exhilarating, rewarding, and one that I will never forget!”

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