Point of View

April 27, 2011, 8:52 pm
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Intensely aware of the precarious position of many Haitian arts groups following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, the Adrienne Arsht Center was determined to help the country in some meaningful way. That’s when John Yearwood, World Editor of The Miami Herald, brought Jeanguy Saintus, founder of Haiti’s celebrated Ayikodans, to the attention of Adrienne Arsht Center President and CEO John Richard. Soon afterwards, Richard and programming director Kathryn Garcia were on their way to Haiti to see firsthand both the process of rehearsal and recovery of Ayikodans, Haiti’s unofficial ambassador of dance.

The talent and resilience of Saintus and his troupe subsequently led to the Adrienne Arsht Center’s commission of a new work from the company set to premiere in Miami in Spring 2012. In addition, the Center committed to producing a fundraiser for the company, scheduled for May 21 & 22, 2011, in order to help the company through their immediate challenges. The Adrienne Arsht Center has convened an outstanding group of community leaders committed to helping Ayikodans develop long term tools for success so that they may continue to inspire pride in the strength, beauty and richness of Haitian culture.

Saintus and his troupe of dancers and percussionists have appeared in halls from Spain to Japan. The troupe’s high-energy performances have enabled the emergence of a new, contemporary Haitian aesthetic that, while rooted in tradition, reflects a modern Caribbean culture and creativity that would surprise many who associate Haiti only with disaster, poverty and helplessness. Indeed, although last year’s earthquake saw six of its drummers and ten dancers lose either family members or homes, the group’s artistic development has not faltered: “Saintus has developed a contemporary style which is both articulate and powerful, and should provide new insights into the language of contemporary dance for the 21st Century,” said Barbara Requa, a founder of the School of Dance at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica.

Along with his professional dance company, Saintus runs a dance school and an ongoing training program called “Dance Barefoot” that offers free tuition (and often meals and housing) for talented young dancers. Some of the students and dancers are recruited from crowds of barefoot kids break-dancing and performing on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Saintus provides them with formal dance training in the studio-house he rents in the suburb of Pétion-Ville.

”As I always say, Haiti was there for me the day I decided to be a choreographer, a teacher, a mentor and an artist. Despite all the sufferings, misunderstandings and the confusions linked to this country, I do think that I need to give back to the community part of what has been given to me…There are many things to be done in this country. The positive part of it all, is seeing that some people are still fighting to move on with their lives despite the catastrophic situation we are all living in. Some of us want to go away while others are fighting for survival. My only wish is to be there for those who want to survive DANCING .” Jeanguy Saintus


April 27, 2011, 7:58 pm
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In the spectacular tradition of past summer blockbusters such as Fuerza Bruta and Slava Snowshow comes a new theatrical wonder to the Adrienne Arsht Center designed to thrill and amaze Miami audiences. It’s called ID, and its pedigree is impeccable.

Created by the internationally popular French-Canadian Cirque Eloize, in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, and directed by one of the greatest cirque directors of our time, Jeannot Painchaud, ID is an awesome, mind-blowing fusion of new theatrical circus and urban dance. Opening July 26 in the Ziff Ballet Opera House, ID transports us into the vibrant streets at the heart of a city. The stage comes alive with the boundless energy of acrobats, break dancers, contortionists, and a fearless stunt biker who perform against a kaleidoscope of eye-popping video projections drawn from science-fiction films, comic books and graffiti. The daring soundtrack mixes rock, hip-hop, and electronic. The Toronto Star raved, “You’re not going to find a more energetic, mind-blowing, roof-raising piece of entertainment!”

ID is the centerpiece of the Center’s sizzling summer lineup which also includes productions by two of Miami’s leading theater companies at the Carnival Studio Theater (in the Ziff Ballet Opera House).

City Theatre, now in its 16th season, presents three productions. Up first, June 2 – 26, is the ever-popular Summer Shorts, a chance to see seven of the country’s best short plays (which can last anywhere from 5 – 20 minutes) in one non-stop evening of comedy and drama. The 2011 edition features TV and stage star Jai Rodriquez, known not only for Bravo TV’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” but also for indelible performances in the iconic Broadway musicals Rent and The Producers. Jai will also be in town to share his Dirty Little Secrets, a hilarious and provocative show, suitable for mature audiences only, being given just four performances on June 10, 17, 19, and 24. Finally, last year’s family musical triumph, Camp Kappawanna, returns by popular demand June 15 – 26, with several new songs by Lisa Loeb and a joyful and insightful book by Marco Ramirez.

Now celebrating 26 years of Hispanic Culture, The International Hispanic Theater Festival spends July 7 – 24 in the company of distinguished theater groups from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, and the United States in a continent-spanning tribute to Chile.

Before any of the above, though, the Tony Award-winning production of Hair kicks off the summer on an exuberant high. Opening May 31, and featuring an extraordinary score of unforgettable songs including “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” and “Easy to be Hard,” Hair is easily one of the most euphoric and moving works ever produced by the America musical theater. This production is so popular that New York City audiences have demanded it return to Broadway for the summer, following its national tour.

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April 27, 2011, 7:56 pm
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The Adrienne Arsht Center took home six ADDY Awards for advertising and marketing excellence at the Advertising Federation of Miami’s 2011 award ceremony. The ADDYs are the advertising and marketing industry’s most significant awards competition, with more than 60,000 entries annually. This marks the third-straight year in which the Adrienne Arsht Center was recognized in the competition’s arts and sciences category with multiple awards. That makes a grand total of 30 ADDYs!

“It’s safe to say that no other business or organization has had a greater impact on Miami’s cultural landscape over the past five years, and I like to think that our marketing efforts have been a key factor in that success,” said Andrew Goldberg, Vice President of Marketing at the Adrienne Arsht Center. “Our marketing campaign is responsible for much more than filling seats. By bringing 500,000 people to Downtown Miami each year for performances and programs, we are making a direct, positive impact on our neighborhood’s economy and destination status.”

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s six awards recognized marketing efforts and advertising pieces surrounding a number of shows and programs, including the 2010/11 Jazz Roots series, Babalu, the Center’s 2010 Summer 2010 brochure, and the Adrienne Arsht Center 2010 specialty holiday chocolates package.


April 27, 2011, 7:54 pm
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Many know Jai Rodriguez from his appearances on Bravo TV’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” or for his performances in Broadway’s Rent and The Producers, but many more in South Florida came to know him personally on Saturday, April 3, 2011 as the Grand Marshal of the 23rd Annual AIDS Walk Miami.

After a long day of filming a TV promotion at various Miami Beach hot spots for his upcoming engagement in this summer’s City Theatre shows at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Jai graciously participated in this annual fund-raising/awareness event. Thousands walked with Jai to show support for those living with HIV/AIDS in our South Florida Communities. Jai gave a personal and inspiring speech prior to starting the walk at the Miami Beach Convention Center and afterwards, spent hours meeting and greeting the participants.

If you missed Jai at the walk, you’ll be able to catch him this summer when he returns to Miami as the headliner in two City Theatre productions at the Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. The ever-popular Summer Shorts, also featuring veteran “City” favorites Steve Trovillon, Gregg Weiner, Finnerty Steeves and Ceci Fernandez, opens June 2 for a four-week run, and the Miami premiere of Jai’s own hilarious and provocative show, Dirty Little Secrets, plays just four performances on June 10, 17, 19 and 24.


April 27, 2011, 7:53 pm
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Armando Santana, a 16-year-old sophomore at New World School of the Arts (NWSA) high school, has been named the top reviewer of the inaugural installment of the Adrienne Arsht Center Student Reviewer Program, a new education initiative in partnership with The Miami Herald, which offers Miami-Dade students a unique, career-building experience that unites the world of arts and journalism. Armando was one of eight finalists whose review of The Sparrow made it to the final round of judging.

Armando is a Miami native and resident of Doral who studies theater and has a passion for play-writing. One of his plays, An Irrelevant Title, is currently in production in the NWSA’s 2011 New Playwright’s Festival.

As part of the Center’s Student Reviewer Program, 45 students participated in a press conference led by the show’s creator Nathan Allen and the Center’s Executive Vice President Scott Shiller. The students then attended an exclusive theater critique class given by The Miami Herald’s theater critic Christine Dolen.

The real-life experience continued when participating students were invited to review the April 8 performance of The Sparrow (which was reserved almost exclusively for student media). Each student was given the full media experience upon arrival at the Adrienne Arsht Center, including a free “reviewer” ticket and press kit.

A panel of South Florida arts leaders selected the best review. Judges included Joseph Adler, Producing Artistic Director of GableStage; Janet Erlick, Executive Artistic Director of Ft. Lauderdale Children’s Theater; Andie Arthur, Executive Director of the South Florida Theater League; and Christine Dolen, theater critic for The Miami Herald.


April 27, 2011, 7:51 pm
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In 2010, more than 52,000 Miami-Dade Students were invited to the Adrienne Arsht Center to see Rock Odyssey, the Broadway-style rock musical version of Homer’s Odyssey complete with sword fighting, dancing, period costumes, and the unforgettable nine-foot Cyclops puppet. It was a huge success with its young audiences, who gave it rave reviews, saying things like “It was awesome!” “I loved it!” and “I would give Rock Odyssey an A+” The show returns this September to thrill and inspire a whole new class of fifth graders, many of whom will experience live theater for the first time.

Auditions for local actors will be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center on May 2, 3, and 4th. Equity and non-Equity actors are invited to audition for world renowned television producer and stage director, Douglas Love, and musical director, Eric Alsford, both of whom will return to remount the production. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for Miami actors to work with this acclaimed team of theater professionals and to make their mark on thousands of young people. Actors interested in auditioning can find more detailed information on the Adrienne Arsht Center website by clicking here.

Rock Odyssey is a program of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Learning Through the Arts initiative and a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools that enables every fifth grade student of Miami-Dade County the opportunity to see a live performance in a world class performing arts center completely free of charge. This year’s production will run from September 19th through September 30th in the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall.


April 27, 2011, 7:43 pm
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This past March, the Adrienne Arsht Center hosted the Performing Arts Center Consortium 2011 Development Conference, which gathers Fundraising Directors from seventeen of the largest Performing Arts Centers from around the country. The conference is a two-day gathering to exchange ideas, strike relationships and share stories about state-of-the-art fundraising techniques and activities from the performing arts sector. The Center’s senior management is always seeking out industry best practices and trends—and the staff was thrilled to host a dynamic group of professionals from major centers, including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Straz Center for the Performing Arts and others.

Under the overarching theme of New Approaches, the conference aimed to provide ideas in what is working in fundraising, and future trends in philanthropy. To kick off the first session, Performing Arts Center Trust Chairman Mike Eidson gave an impassionate speech, sharing his experience with the arts and energizing the crowd. “Art and what we do transforms lives locally,” Eidson said. “I’m dedicated to helping the Center’s Advancement team to do all we can to make the dream possible.” Echoing these sentiments Center President and CEO John Richard stated, “We have the incredible responsibility of making the mission of our organizations happen through private philanthropy and other revenue sources.”

Guest speakers at the conference included Giles Woodyer, Vice President and Brand Managing Director of Bacardi USA, Inc, House of Bombay and Prestige Brands; as well as Dennis Scholl, Vice President of the Arts at the Knight Foundation. Scholl challenged participants to engage younger audiences by thinking of them as an active part of the experience.


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