Point of View

June 6, 2011, 3:38 pm
Filed under: At the Center

“Ayikodans performances a triumph!” exclaimed the headline in the Miami Herald. “A weekend of shows to benefit the beleaguered Haitian dance troupe was a rousing success that exceeded organizers’ hopes,” said Herald dance critic Jordan Levin.

Photo by Carl Juste

Intensely aware of the precarious position of many Haitian arts groups following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, the Center committed to producing a fundraiser for the company—originally two performances, which grew to three due to the extraordinary demand for tickets—scheduled for May 21 & 22. The Center also commissioned a new work from the company, set to premiere in Miami in the spring of the 2011/12 Dance at the Arsht season.The goal was to help the company through its immediate challenges—and the Adrienne Arsht Center convened an outstanding group of community leaders committed to helping Aykodans develop long term tools for success so that they can continue to inspire pride in the strength, beauty and richness of Haitian culture. 

“We have helped save a very important dance company from Haiti, whose future is brighter as a result of our efforts,” said Adrienne Arsht Center President John Richard. “The results are stunning by any measuring stick—transformative, world class, community-based—a triple play on our mission chart.”

Supporters of the modern dance group, which is led by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, raised $117,000. An additional $141,874 in-kind support was secured from a dedicated committee of influential Miami leaders. Support included professional expertise, creative talent, products and other resources, much of which will benefit Ayikodans long into the future. A future that—with these efforts and the company’s own bounty of artistic gifts—is now bright with promise.

“Judging by the power and quality of Ayikodans’ Saturday night performance, Saintus’ battle has already been an artistic triumph,” continued Levin in her review. “The dancers were magnificent, exhibiting a mesmerizing combination of powerful technique, physicality and emotional intensity.”

June 6, 2011, 3:38 pm
Filed under: At the Center

Amid the excitement of the approaching end of what has been a remarkable 5th Anniversary Season, the Adrienne Arsht Center hosted its first-ever State of the Arsht presentation earlier this month.  The event was part of the Center Advancement team’s series of  5th Anniversary signature events, which also included the season preview Insider’s Look, the Bombay Sapphire Lounge Private Donor Opening, the 5th Anniversary Season Gala, and the recent Green Room Society Spring Fling.

Photo by Manny Hernandez

Designed to showcase the Center’s history and ambitious goals for the future, State of the Arsht was attended by business and civic leaders, diplomatic representatives, Board members, staff and some of Miami’s most noted philanthropists.  Suzanna Valdez, Vice-President of Advancement, welcomed the crowd,  saying “Today’s event is an opportunity for us to share with you some of the highlights of our first years in service to the Miami community.”  In the presentation by John Richard that followed, the Center’s president and CEO said, “The Arsht Center’s mission has evolved just as our community has matured. ‘Entertain, Educate, Stimulate and Impact’ – this is the staircase of our mission.”

Indeed, the Center has come a long way since it opened its doors in the fall of 2006 by serving the community through its many and diverse arts education and outreach programs. For example, Learning Through the Arts thus far has invited 52,000 Miami-Dade fifth graders to come see a free live performance at no cost and will soon bring a new class of fifth graders to the Center this fall. Free Gospel Sundays brings nearly 2000 music lovers four times each year to the Knight Concert Hall for a free concert by the finest local gospel choirs and award-winning gospel stars from around the country.

All these accomplishment have come about with strong leadership and responsible fiscal management—the Center, in fact, has maintained a balanced budget for the last three years. In this regard, Carlos Garcia, partner at Goldstein Schecter Koch, stated “we believe in the Center and what it is doing for our city.” Indeed, these accomplishments underscore strong private, corporate, and public support, for which the Center is grateful.

June 6, 2011, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Performing Arts News

Last year, the Adrienne Arsht Center and  City Theatre co-presented the world premiere production of Camp Kappawanna, an original musical inspired by Lisa Loeb’s Camp Lisa CD. The show played to happy family audiences that packed the theater for its two-week run and got rave reviews for its catchy music and loveable characters. This year, the hit musical—born and developed in the Center’s Carnival Studio Theater—is back by popular demand and goes on the road to delight audiences up and down the South Florida coast! The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale, as well as the Adrienne Arsht Center, all play host to the musical theater  treat that will satisfy families looking for something fun and entertaining to do this summer!

Photo by George Shiavone

Camp Kappawanna celebrates timeless camp experiences with hip music penned by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb along with a book by Miami’s own Marco Ramirez. From beginning to end, Camp Kappawanna makes audiences of all generations feel as if they, too, are joining in the fun of summer camp!

June 6, 2011, 3:30 pm
Filed under: AileyCamp, Volunteerism

This time of year brings a whole new wave of AileyCamp Miami participants to our doors, and it takes a significant amount of volunteer support to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  April 30th was the kick-off date for AileyCamp Miami 2011. Auditions and interviews were conducted for potential campers. More than 400 candidates turned out for the chance to experience what has been called the finest dance training camp in the country.

This year,  the Center’s Volunteer Services team recruited its Youth Corps volunteers—who are under 18 years old—along with their volunteering parents, to make the Ailey Campers’ first look at the Arsht Center welcoming.  The energy of the youth corps was essential to the success of the day – the runners spent the entire day taking the younger campers to their interviews and auditions.  The Center’s volunteer youth corps is close in age to that of the Campers themselves, making them ideal Center ambassadors for this program.

At this event, three of the Center’s volunteering families participated.  15-year-old Madisyn Fluitt volunteers with her grandmother Lilian and mother Edith; 15-year-old David Weiss often volunteers alongside his Dad, Shay; and 15-year-old Marniece Holmes was an Ailey Camper last year and now volunteers as much as possible for Ailey events with her mother Marniece Dixon.     

Families who volunteer together is nothing new for the Center’s volunteer program, which boasts multigenerational participation every week!  Having a parent volunteer with a Youth Corps member strengthens the commitment for both to sign up for a variety of events, and creates a unique arts-related way for families to spend time together. Most of these young volunteers will continue working with AileyCamp over the summer, and the Center is fortunate that it can count on such bright and shining stars!

June 6, 2011, 3:29 pm
Filed under: About the Center, Volunteerism

The Adrienne Arsht Center offers internship opportunities for motivated, self-actuating young people in programming, marketing, production, operations and administration. So far, more than 55 students from around the country have participated in the Center’s program.

None of these internships are dreary paper-pushing positions. “Interning at the Center is a real-life experience. We don’t just simulate a workplace, we give you responsibilities and a body of work, and the expectations are pretty high,” says Trish Brennan, Vice President of Human Resources. For a young performing arts center, internships are one of the best ways to connect with communities by literally investing in talented and capable youths.

At 17, Claudia Cereceda, from iPrep Academy, has been working at the Center as a front-of-house intern twice a week since November and is “involved in just about everything,” reports Theater Manager Alice Fifelski. “She’s not treated as a kid, but as an equal. She’s one of us. She’s given responsibility, and she can handle it.”

The internship led Claudia to an evening in April when she served as house manager for one of the spring season’s flagship shows, The Sparrow. A job description for house manager at the Adrienne Arsht Center can read like an adventure novel. House managers are at the front line of making the theatergoing experience as pleasurable and rewarding as possible for every patron who walks in the door. They are often asked to make split-minute decisions to resolve unforeseen issues involving ticketing, seating, accessibility, and visibility—you name it—right on the spot—before, during and sometimes after the show!

Claudia tells us what her experience as an intern has meant to her.

What have you learned?

“Being the front-of-house intern has taught me so much about what goes into putting on a show. I’ve learned that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that a regular audience member isn’t always aware of…and it’s quite a demanding job!

How has your time at the Center brought you closer to the community?

“One thing I admire about the Arsht Center is their commitment to community outreach programs. Events like the Free Family Fests are a great example of how the Center is working hard to spread culture into our community.”

In a sentence, how would you summarize the experience?

“I’ve been truly blessed to be able to intern at the Adrienne Arsht Center because the people here are so caring and they’ve all helped to make this a great experience for me.”

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