performing arts

Nadege Green / WLRN

Zest Collective, a New York-based dance company, is in Fort Lauderdale for a one-night performance.

Gentry George, the collective’s founder, was born and raised in Miami. This is the company’s first performance outside of New York, and George says it’s only natural that he came home.

George, who also dances with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, says Wednesday night’s performance, "Courageous Chapel, Abandoning Theater," is largely inspired by his experience in the church.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Diaunte Jenkins’ introduction to dance was at family gatherings and barbecues.

When the beat dropped, he was the kid delighting the crowd with the latest hip-hop moves.

“From that point on I realized this is my gift because I would be doing it really everywhere I go,” he said.

In church, he was more subdued. That’s where he picked up worship and liturgical dances.

And by the time he figured out he wanted to pursue dance formally, he knew his neighborhood school in Liberty City, Miami Northwestern High , had a performing arts magnet program.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Robert Battle is the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

He was raised in Liberty City by his cousin Dessie Horne,  who he calls his mother. Horne is a deeply spiritual woman who helped shape his love for the arts.

Battle rarely lets an interview go by without mentioning her impact on him.

She’s his biggest cheerleader and his inspiration. 

On a recent afternoon,  Battle and Horne sat down  at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City and reminisced.

Listen to the  conversation below:

Marsha Halper / Miami Herald

“In Haiti,  you always have the feeling it’s the first day. Every day is like Monday morning,” said Jean Guy Saintus, founder and director of Haitian dance company Ayikodans.

Whenever a dance performance is getting close, Saintus warns his dancers that this might be the only rehearsal they get.

“The piece needs to be ready tonight to be able to perform tomorrow. You never know what can happen tomorrow in Haiti,” he tells them.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Dance icon Arthur Mitchell is sitting in the dance studio at Dr. Michael Krop High School in Northeast Miami-Dade.

He’s 81 years old. And even seated, he has the presence of a dancer.

Head high. Chest out. Back straight.  

Ruth Wiesen, director of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, is reading excerpts of his lengthy biography to about two dozen students.

Wiesen, who helped organize Mitchell’s trip to Miami, tells the students that he was the first black principal dancer with the New York City Ballet in 1955.

Christine DiMattei / WLRN

A performing arts center that’s in a converted Delray Beach parking garage faces an uncertain future after the city suspended a nearly $69,000 payment last week.

 

The payment to the Arts Garage would have come from a reimbursement program for non-profits.

Nadege Green / WLRN

It's YoungArts Week in Miami.

That means young artists from across  the country (dancers, writers, singers, filmmakers, visual artists and more) are in town  performing and exhibiting their work. In between, they get the opportunity to take master classes and workshops with leading artists in their fields. The events are taking place at the YoungArts Campus and the New World Center. 

Nadege Green / WLRN

There's a  building off Biscayne Boulevard near downtown Miami that looks like a giant stained glass box.

It’s home to the National YoungArts Foundation,  and the organization, which helps foster the careers of promising young artists, is inviting artists to come into the space and create.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet is the first dance company in residence at YoungArts, and the New York-based troupe is finding inspiration inside the box -- and out.

Lifetime

The Young Contemporary Dance Theater sits just on the edge of Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

Traci Young-Byron, the studio’s owner, said inside this former warehouse turned dance studio, she’s training black dancers like herself to reach for greatness.

“I’m just trying to use my platform as big or small as it may be to push African-American dancers,” she said.

A national audience will get to see Young-Byron and her dancers at work.

Nadege Green / WLRN

This is a story about a mermaid.

A vigilante-environmentalist mermaid, and she can't stay quiet any longer. She needs people to stop polluting South Florida’s waters.

“She’s the daughter of the goddess of the sea known as Yemaya in Cuba and the Caribbean,” says Elizabeth Doud.

In her one-woman show, Doud transforms into Siren Jones, the mermaid.

Courtesy Damion Bradbury

Before the pianist plays the final arrangement, Damion Bradbury stands in the front row of the New  World School of the Arts dance studio towering over most of his fellow dancers at 6'4".

His feet are tuned out in a “V” shape, first position. His long arms hang by his side.

The piano notes waft through the room.

Gerard Ebitz, a ballet teacher at the school, talks the students through what will be the last reverence at New World for the 2015 senior class.

There is a solemn feel to this dance sequence performed at the end of every ballet class. 

Christine DiMattei / WLRN

Until about 18 months ago, the auditorium at Broward College’s Pembroke Pines campus was largely unused.

“They’ve done graduations for kindergarten through fifth grade,” laughs Lamar Lovelace, director of the Broward College South Campus Office of Cultural Affairs. “A few film festivals here and there, but no concerted effort to program around arts and culture.”

But now, the 352-seat theater has been re-branded as BSOCA. And Lovelace is hoping its audiences get fired up enough to change the world. 

Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is a writer, contributor to This American Life and filmmaker. But he is probably best known as founder and collector of lost things for FOUND Magazine, a publication made of "anything that people have found."

Storify.com/Julian Restrep

Palm Beach County's demographics and arts patrons are rapidly changing, and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts intends to keep up. 

"Palm Beach County is no longer a retirement community," says Jane Mitchell, who was recently elected as board chair for the 28-year-old cultural institution. 

C. DiMattei

A crowd of about one hundred supporters of the Arts Garage gathered outside the venue Tuesday  and marched the few blocks to Delray Beach City Hall.  They were prepared to speak out against a bid by the law firm of Kanner and Pintaluga to buy the city-owned space that houses Arts Garage.

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