Miami New Times' MasterMind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This week, we're profiling the 10 finalists, selected by our staff from over 100 submissions, who are in the running to receive one of three 2013 MasterMind awards, each of which comes with a fat $1,000 check. This year's MasterMind Award winners will be announced Thursday, February 28, at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
Many artists toil away in the dark shadows of obscurity for decades. Not Rosie Herrera. The dancer, choreographer, singer, and renaissance woman gets what she wants. Proof: She debuted on the New York City stage only three years after launching her namesake dance company.
"The most I can hope for is that people connect with it, that people laugh and people cry," the 29-year-old says of her NYC experience. "People were happy to see some color onstage, some warmth. We brought the Miami heat in a big way."
Herrera has been staging shows since she was a kid and nabbed her first professional role at 15, when she was cast as World's Shortest Showgirl in Néstor Cabell's production of El Solar del Paladar y la Chiva de Escobar. After graduating from Miami Springs Senior High, she went on to New World School of the Arts, where she earned a BFA in dance performance in 2006.
Since graduating, she's been producing a unique style of gender-bending, emotionally raw choreography. Herrera's work inspires disparate feelings in her audience -- joy and despair, violence and tenderness, confusion and clarity. Pieces such as Pity Party and Dining Alone explore the emotional intricacies in seemingly rote aspects of life: aging and eating.
"My process is still evolving," she says. "I think with every piece I create, I learn a little bit more about what my process is really like."
If her schedule is any indication, the evolution never ends. Herrera recently completed a teaching session at Tampa's University of South Florida. Her company is preparing a mini-tour of Dining Alone and will visit the American College Dance Festival in Tampa in March and New York City's prestigious Baryshnikov Arts Center in mid-April. Afterward, she will be in residence at the American Dance Festival for six weeks.
Still, Herrera remains modest about her role in Miami's dance evolution.
"I'm really just a part of it," she says. "I'm not the leader, not the main thing, just a part of a really big change in our community."
No matter where her talent takes her, Herrera is all about her hometown.
"The way that the light comes through in Miami, there's an energy here, a vibrancy here," she says. "There's a hum -- no, not even. It's like a yell that is constant in Miami that is so bountiful and so full of information. It really connects me with this deep, honest place within myself. Then I can really create movement from this authentic space."
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2013 MasterMind Award Honorable Mentions:
The Gutter Film Series
Reed van Brunschot
Bookleggers Public Library
I'm Not Gonna Move To LA
Andrew "Zig" Leipzig