© Maya Hayuk

Miami City Ballet Draws Inspiration and Experience From Wynwood

By: Nicholas Olivera


Jennifer Lauren, Shimon Ito and Alexander Peters performing in Heatscape.













Alfredo Garcia, associate executive director of the Miami City Ballet, wants his students to be ready for life after school.

“These are young men and women who have dedicated their lives to dance and are trying to obtain gainful employment after they leave our school,” Garcia said about the challenge that faces many of the elite dance program’s graduates. “What you find is that they get great dance education but they don’t get much choreographic education; and so we created a choreographic intensive to meet that demand.”

The business of ballet hinges on choreography. Since an original routine is the intellectual property of its choreographer, anybody who wants to recreate it on stage and charge for admission needs the choreographer’s approval. Think of it like this: there are a ton of places that fry chicken, but KFC franchises pay for the right to use the Colonel’s secret recipe.

And the Miami City Ballet School has students coming up with their own recipes for Poetry in Motion, a special performance at Light Box at Goldman Warehouse in Wynwood. It will include the work of pre-professional Miami City Ballet School students at the Miami Lightbox. Piece will be either choreographed for students or by them.

The performance is part of a year-long partnership between the MCB and the Wynwood Business Improvement District or the BID, as it’s frequently known. Since its inception in 2013, the BID has been criticized by those who believe the group is trying to gentrify Wynwood without addressing some of the neighborhood’s bigger issues.

The partnership was founded in the hopes of making ballet more accessible to the community. Last December, the two groups arranged for students in Wynwood’s surrounding schools to watch a private performance of The Nutcracker at the Arsht Center.

“These are children that have never been to the Arsht Center, let alone The Nutcracker, so it was a great opportunity,” says Albert Garcia (no relation to Alfredo), vice chairman of the BID board and a business owner/operator in Wynwood.

In addition to the private viewing of The Nutcracker and the upcoming performance at Light Box, MCB, and the BID are also partnering on a production of Heatscape, an original ballet choreographed by Tony-award-winner Justin Peck. Heatscape, reportedly inspired by the street art of Wynwood, will be playing at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. Much of the clientele is likely unfamiliar with the neighborhood’s murals.

“This allows us, meaning Wynwood, to not only expose people to the street art but to really collaborate with another cultural arts group and take our work outside of Wynwood,” Albert Garcia said. “Wynwood is of course the arts district of Miami but many people just kind of silo it in their mental map as a street art haven or as a place for restaurants and drinks. But there’s more to it… Wynwood [can] inspire beautiful art of all different kinds, not just visual art but also performing arts.”

Original article