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.


One of the ongoing commitments of the Adrienne Arsht Center to our community is to be accessible to everyone regardless of disability challenges. In addition to the Saturday matinee sign-interpreted and Sunday matinee open-captioned Broadway in Miami performances already offered for deaf and hearing-impaired guests, this season the Center introduced audio descriptions for blind and vision-impaired guests for the Sunday matinee performances. And just recently, the Center added another program— touch tours for The Nutcracker and Beauty and the Beast, in collaboration with Miami City Ballet and Broadway Across America.

For The Nutcracker, Edward Villella, Founding Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of Miami City Ballet, generously gave his time pre-performance to give the history and description of a number of the costumes and props used in the production. A group of vision impaired guests had the opportunity to touch the costumes to fully enjoy the texture and style of the silks, satins, and lace and to handle the props. While everyone enjoyed the delicate costumes of the Flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy, the overall favorite for tactile richness was that of the Rat King. The touch tour literally set the stage for the performance that followed.

Having received rave reviews from our guests, we approached the Beauty and the Beast company and asked if they would also agree to share their time with our guests. While the touch tour for The Nutcracker was held in the Next Generation Green Room of the Ziff Ballet Opera House, for Beauty and the Beast our guests along with their companions went right on stage where they had the opportunity to touch not just the costumes and props, but also the actual set. Being on the stage also gave guests a first-hand understanding of the length and breadth of the performance space. The entire experience was deemed thrilling, but most agreed that the highlight of the tour was meeting the Beast!

Although not every production lends itself to touch tours, the Center will continue to explore the opportunity to offer this service for our vision impaired and blind guests whenever possible with the goal of making the Adrienne Arsht Center, our home, a welcome place to experience great performances and superior guest service for everyone.


Few cities can offer—in an entire year—the depth and breadth of performances on our stages this month alone. Allowing us to accomplish this is the Center’s brilliantly conceived collection of halls and stages, all designed to bring out the best in everything from the most complex productions to the simplest and most intimate solos.

The John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall is a sonic wonder. Its miraculous acoustical design gives it unparalleled flexibility. There’s no better place to hear large-scale orchestras and choirs—the experience is grand, impressive, overwhelming. Yet in that same hall you can also detect every nuance a solo artist might articulate—be they a classical pianist, jazz trumpeter, world-famous comedian or pop superstar.  The Carnival Studio Theater—with just over 200 seats—gives audiences a unique perspective—up close and personal. You can’t miss a beat when the performer is just inches from your seat. Our Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House is the envy of cities everywhere. It’s enormous, state-of-the-art stage, incomparable sightlines, and compact horse-shoe design makes it an ideal showcase for the grandest opera, dance, and musical theater performances.

February at the Center has been a veritable festival of programming: a Jazz Roots celebration of Miles Davis , the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie playing Beethoven and Brahms, the Tony Award-winning actress Melba Moore in Crowns, Spain’s magnificent Ballet Nacional de España, the witty banter of NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me,”and much more. Finally, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater visit to Miami this week is all the more special as it celebrates not only the 50th anniversary of the ever-surprising Revelations, but also Judith Jamison’s final season as the iconic leader of one of America’s true cultural treasures.

This is just a taste of the brilliant 5th Anniversary Season we have planned for you, and I look forward to seeing your smiling faces.


It’s two turntables and a microphone.  It’s lyrics to go.  It’s straight outta Compton, Queensbridge, and Miami!   It’s hip hop – one of America’s greatest cultural expressions, and it’s alive and well at the Adrienne Arsht Center like never before.  Last week a dozen young dancers took the best of hip hop from the streets of Philly to the stage in Miami, performing as part of acclaimed choreographer Rennie Harris’ second company, RHAW: Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works.

In celebration of this thrilling young troupe’s Miami debut, the Center threw an old school block party, filling the Thomson Plaza for the Arts with DJs, MCs, and Miami’s finest b-boys who threw down in a breakdance battle par excellence.  As the official RHAW after party, the B-Boy Battle featured DJ Griot from 99 Jamz, DJ Brimstone/127, Ground Zero Crew, the Flipside Kings, and of course the RHAW dancers who couldn’t help but join in the freestyle jam session.  Even Dr. Rennie Harris himself was moved by the spirit of Kool Herc and took to the dance floor to show the youngsters how it is done.  Long live hip hop, one of America’s greatest art forms!


February 2011 marks a milestone month for dance at the Center.  The Center expects to see more than 22,000 South Floridians leap through our doors for diverse and dynamic dance programs, making the Adrienne Arsht Center one of the premier venues for dance in the country.  Earlier this month Peru Negro and Eva Ayllon had Miamians dancing in the aisles; Miami City Ballet enchanted with a mixed bill featuring masterworks by Balanchine, Taylor and Tharp;  last week Rennie Harris’ young hip hop troupe, RHAW, made their Miami debut; and next week Flamenco Festival returns for the fourth consecutive season with Spain’s leading ambassadors of flamenco, Ballet Nacional de España.

This weekend, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater soars into town for what has become a beloved Miami tradition – the company’s annual performance residency at the Center showcasing the world’s greatest dancers and one of the most inspiring dance masterpieces, Revelations.  This season, Ailey celebrates 50 years of Revelations, honoring a dance that has travelled across continents, touching audience members from Brooklyn to South Africa.  Artistic Director Judith Jamison, now in the final year of her incredible 25-year tenure at the helm of the company, makes her last stop in Miami this season, passing the torch to Liberty City native Robert Battle.  With Miami’s native son posed to step into perhaps the most prominent dance leadership position in the country, now more than ever dance in Miami is exploding onto the local and national scene.

Come dance with us!

Year in Photos 2010
December 29, 2010, 3:40 pm
Filed under: At the Center

2010 was an epic year for the Adrienne Arsht Center. With over 300 performances, public programs and special events as well as some history-in-the-making moments, the Adrienne Arsht Center has left a lasting imprint in the arts community, both locally and nationally in 2010. Have a look at our Year in Photos below and relive some of these timeless moments again.

Photo credits for the slideshow:
Manny Hernandez
Seth Browarnik, Spencer Strayer, S. Dixon, and Alex Markow for WorldRedEye.com
Justin Namon
Courtesy of Cavalia
Jipsy Castillo
Gregory F. Reed
John Grigaitis
Gio Alma
A. Thorne
Joan Marcus

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