An Our Town for our town.

The moment during Saturday night’s opening of Miami New Drama’s rendition of Our Town, the quintessentially American Thornton Wilder play, that felt most familiar was the one you might have expected to be the most “foreign.” Mrs. Gibbs (the charismatic and marvelously vital Chantal Jean-Pierre) and Mrs. Webb (the formidable Carlotta Sosa), stood side by…

Despacito Broke New Ground for Latin Pop – and for its Female Songwriter

Despacito has been steamrolling records – most streamed song of all time, most played song on Youtube, most weeks topping Billboard’s Hot 100 (in the version featuring Justin Beiber with original singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee), most popular song in Spanish. On a more subjective metric, it may be the most pegajoso earworm ever…

Miami’s Cultural Godmother is Leaving

(Photo – Mary Luft performing in 1979) Performance art? We got that. Contemporary dance? Check. Musical experiments? Yup. Shows in warehouses and other non-theater spaces? Absolutely. A spot on the U.S. cultural map? Sure. That we do owes much to Mary Luft, Miami’s cultural godmother. In 1979 she launched Tigertail Productions to present the radical,…

The French singer Edith Piaf owes much of her iconic status to having endured and triumphed despite her brutal upbringing – abandoned by her mother, raised in a brothel – and terrible losses throughout her short life. She transmuted her pain and strength into her music, creating a cathartic passage through heartache and beyond. The…

Invented Icons – Irene Williams, the Queen of Lincoln Road

(Eric Smith next to the Annie Leibovitz photo of his adored Irene Williams, the “Queen of Lincoln Road,” at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. Photo by Jordan Levin.) Irene Williams, the fierce, elderly fashion iconoclast being celebrated in the show Irene Williams: Queen of Lincoln Road at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU this summer, was…

They’re Hot: Beloved Miami ballet couple keeps dance fever alive

[Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg rehearsing “Transparente.” Courtesy Patricia Reagan Photography.]  Animated chatter in Spanish and English. Dancers and dances from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia. Generations of former Miami City Ballet talent. Dancers whipping across the studio to the tortured vocals of Cuban diva La Lupe. A recent rehearsal of the fledgling Dimensions Dance Theatre…

Bread, Roses, and a Declaration of Joy

[Photo – Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra of Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami] This is a cultural blog, but celebrating culture often feels difficult these days. Politics is so enraging and frightening. The abuse, lies, stupidity and nastiness of President Trump; the meanness of politicians who seem determined to decimate support for the environment, health,…

Changing the World, One Film at a Time – the Good Fight at Good Pitch Miami

The stars/heros were a teenage refugee from Honduras, a Mayan activist from Guatemala, a park ranger from Bolivia, a mentor to struggling teenagers in Los Angeles. The power brokers were foundation leaders and media executives. The supplicants were storytellers, filmmakers and activists. At stake was a chance to change the world. They all came together…

Mozart from Havana in Miami

Listen while you can, Miami. The most in-demand classical music ticket tonight is to the sold-out concert by Simone Dinnerstein, one of the finest classical pianists in the world, with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra at the New World Symphony’s New World Center. The concert is part of a short U.S. tour supporting Mozart in Havana,…

Telling her story: Jamilah Sabur defines herself

If you were puzzled, as I was, by artist Jamilah Sabur’s haunting, opaque show at Dimensions Variable at Miami Dade College, this Thursday night is your chance to hear her explain. Miami-based Sabur’s exhibit If Defined, Then Undefine, is packed with personal memories and meaning related to her Jamaican roots. Among them are her mother’s…

The singular, spectacular Joey Arias

Long before drag was mainstream and creating a gender-blurring self was an activist act, Joey Arias was doing both. The singular diva, singer and artist-entertainer, who performs Friday as part of Fundarte’s Out in the Tropics festival, is a legendary founding figure of New York’s art/music/nightlife underground. A word he scoffs at, one of the…

Carlos Betancourt talks Memory, Identity and Illuminations

I’ve been friends with artist Carlos Betancourt since the now-famous Imperfect Utopia days on Lincoln Road in the early 90’s, when his studio was a gathering place for the community of artists and art lovers, thrift shop glamour pusses, experimental designers, South Beach socialites (we didn’t call it Sobe yet), the simply fabulous and those…