Ugo Rondinone's "Good Evening Beautiful Blue"
Ugo Rondinone's "Good Evening Beautiful Blue"
Courtesy of the Bass Museum

South Florida's Best Cultural Events of the 2017-18 Season

October

On Your Feet!

October 5 through 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

It's rare to see a semblance of everyday Miami life in books or movies. Popular depictions cast the Magic City as a sea of drug cartels and corrupt businessmen. On Your Feet! hits closer to home as a tale of Cuban immigrants integrating into U.S. culture and as a chronicle of the music and careers of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. With two Cuban mothers driving the plot and more than 20 musical numbers from the iconic Latin superstars, this new Broadway production will hit several levels of nostalgia.

Jewels

October 20 through 22 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

George Balanchine's ode to various dance styles is presented as a trio of jewels: "Emeralds," a celebration of French ballet; "Rubies," an homage to American jazz; and "Diamonds," a look at 19th-century Russian ballet. For the first time in 10 years, the Miami City Ballet will perform these pieces with accompaniment from their Opus One Orchestra.

Miami in Movements

October 21 at SoundScape Park, 400 17th St., Miami Beach; 305-673-3330; nws.edu.

New World Symphony has teamed up with the Knight Foundation and MIT Media Lab to present a crowdsourced video and composition, Miami in Movements, inspired by the Magic City. As part of its Wallcast concerts, New World will project the film and perform the music inspired by more than a thousand submissions by Miami-Dade residents reflecting on their experience of their home. Get there early to catch the band Picadillo or a free tour of the New World Center.

Bass Grand Reopening

October 29 at the Bass, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530; thebass.org.

Twelve million dollars and two years later, the Bass is reopening with expanded gallery space, a creative learning center, and new acquisitions. "Round 1: Chroma" includes five commissioned works of site-specific sculpture, and one of the four galleries will be dedicated to new work in the museum's permanent collection. The inaugural exhibitions for the new building will be Ugo Rondinone's "Good Evening Beautiful Blue" and Pascale Marthine Tayou's "Beautiful."

November

Lucia di Lammermoor

November 11 through 18 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

Florida Grand Opera will open its latest season with the tale of a young woman torn from her lover and forced into an arranged marriage. The heroine, who eventually murders her bridegroom in their honeymoon suite, sings a challenging solo in that act, a testament to the talents of soprano Melanie Moore. The show will travel to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts November 30 through December 2.

Miami Book Fair

November 12 through 19 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-237-3258; miamibookfair.com.

Though the Magic City might not seem like the home of bespectacled intellectuals writing manifestos thinly veiled as fiction, the Miami Book Fair nevertheless attracts hundreds of authors and publishers from around the world for a glut of literary brilliance. This year's highlight is an appearance by Joe Biden, promoting his book Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose. But don't sleep on gems like the Read Caribbean program, which highlights works by writers from our neighbors to the south, and, of course, the Street Fair, where rare tomes and original manuscripts sit next to children's books and handmade journals.

South Beach Wine & Food Festival
South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Photo by Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images for SOBEWFF

December

Art Basel

December 7 through 10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; artbasel.com/miamibeach.

This behemoth festival of art commerce is perhaps the only event where a stabbing could be mistaken for performance art. Whether that's what makes Art Basel Miami Beach fantastic or terrible is up for debate, but what's certain is the fair makes Miami Beach the center of the contemporary art universe for a few days. Whether you show up only for the meat market of 200 international galleries displaying the work of more than 4,000 artists or you attend the lectures, film screenings, and performances at the Miami Beach Convention Center and throughout Miami-Dade, you're sure to get a snapshot of painting, photography, sculpture, and everything in between on the cutting edge.

Institute of Contemporary Art Grand Opening

December 1 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 61 NE 41st St., Miami; 305-901-5272; icamiami.org.

Despite being a young institution, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) engages heavily with local and global contemporary art communities, which might explain how the center is already expanding to a large building in the Design District, with flexible space for exhibitions and other programming plus a massive outdoor space for installations and sculpture. The ICA's inaugural exhibition, "The Everywhere Studio," takes a peek into the studios and processes of 50 artists working in the past five decades.

Tania El Khoury: Gardens Speak and As Far as My Fingertips Take Me

December 6 through 9 in the Gleason Room at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, and the Clinton Room at the New World Center, 500 17th St., Miami Beach; mdclivearts.org.

The recent rise of the right in England and Europe makes for poignant and impactful work from Tania El Khoury, an artist working out of London and Beirut. It's also timely and important work for Miami viewers. In both of her performance pieces, Khoury implicates audience members in the specific and personal stories of refugee Basel Zaraa and resistance fighters in Syria. Through intimate sound and gallery performance, Khoury makes it more difficult for us to forget the consequences of our willful ignorance.

Cirque du Soleil: Volta

December 15 through January 14, 2018, at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens; 305-943-8000; cirquedusoleil.com.

In another stunning display of acrobatic skill, beautiful costume and set design, and inspiring storytelling, Cirque du Soleil presents Volta. This time around, the source of your awe will be a group of free spirits who lead a self-doubting TV host ruined by the pursuit of fame to the discovery of his true self. With an action-sports twist, this show is sure to surprise you as much as it tugs at your emotions.

January 2018

ScreenDance Miami

January 18 through 20 at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami; 305-576-4350; miamilightproject.com.

Nothing quite captures the electricity of a live performance, but a lot of innovation can be accomplished with the blending of genres. The festival ScreenDance Miami is a testimony to this as it gathers choreography performed on film rather than live. Formerly produced by Tigertail, the fest is still directed by Pioneer Winter, a local performance artist and choreographer with an impressive resumé of challenging live and filmed pieces. In this gray area of visual and performing arts, new developments and discoveries are made with every new work.

Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts

January 18 through February 4 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

Zoetic Stage is a unique Miami institution largely because of its partnership with the Arsht Center. The company brings national productions to town yet also produces original works that give the rest of the country a taste of the Magic City's talents. Christopher Demos-Brown, an accomplished playwright and one of the founders of Zoetic Stage, is presenting his newest work, Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts, a tale of a personal injury lawyer who stumbles upon a goldmine when a plane crashes. So instead of crying about capitalism's reduction of human life to a post-tragedy payout, let Demos-Brown and director Stuart Meltzer make you laugh about it.

Tania El Khoury: Gardens Speak and As Far as My Fingertips Take Me
Tania El Khoury: Gardens Speak and As Far as My Fingertips Take Me
Courtesy of the artist

February 2018

Nu Deco Ensemble and Jacob Collier

February 15 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

It isn't unusual these days to find people who've become popular for their YouTube videos even if they possess no real talent. In the case of Jacob Collier, though, just watch his video production of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing." It made him famous, which makes it all the more fitting that he'll perform a symphonic suite of the soul legend's songs with Nu Deco Ensemble. The night will also include Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

South Beach Wine & Food Festival

February 21 through 25 at various locations throughout Miami-Dade; sobewff.org.

You can find delicious fare in Miami year-round from local chefs, some even using locally grown food, so why fly dozens of celebrity chefs and wine-makers from all over the world to Miami Beach? Well, why not? If you can't spend big bucks on a slew of dinners prepared by the likes of Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay, parties on the beach, or tastings from global wineries, you can at least soak in the energy of a city full of flavor lovers and lushes.

Coconut Grove Arts Festival

February 17 through 19 on McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive, and Pan American Drive in Coconut Grove; cgaf.com.

If you grew up in Miami, you probably have memories of attending the Coconut Grove Arts Festival as a kid: walking, eating arepas, sipping slushes, more walking. As an adult, you notice the dozens of booths set up by local and international artists in what is possibly the largest outdoor display of art in the United States. Unlike Art Basel, where the works are curated by people who look like supermodels, the Grove fest allows you to meet the artists, who are sitting out in the sun just like the rest of us normal humans. You can also expect a constellation of live music, delicious food, and tasty libations to accompany your weekend of art appreciation.

March 2018

Axis of Love: Amir ElSaffar: Two Rivers Ensemble

March 3 at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5202; northbeachbandshell.com.

Music can traverse emotional, social, and cultural barriers. In the midst of travel bans attempting to shut the world out of the United States, MDC Live Arts and the Rhythm Foundation are curating concerts from musicians from the Middle East as part of its series Axis of Love. Amir ElSaffar is an Iraqi-American trumpet player who applies Arab music's complexity to a brass instrument to create groundbreaking melodies. Other concerts in the Axis of Love series will take place in January and May.

Miami Film Festival

March 9 through 18 at various locations throughout Miami-Dade; 305-237-3456; miamifilmfestival.com.

It's around this time of year that sitting in an icebox for a few hours becomes necessary in the 305. It's convenient, then, that in early March, films from all over the world are screened in theaters throughout town as part of the Miami Film Festival. For more than 30 years, the fest has brought celebrities, innovative films, and necessary conversations to the world of cinema. It might be almost impossible to see every offering, but a schedule this rich with global dramas, comedies, documentaries, and love stories is sure to satisfy even the snobbiest movie buff.

"Sid Grossman" at PAMM
"Sid Grossman" at PAMM
Sid Grossman

April 2018

O, Miami Poetry Festival

April 1 through 30 at various locations throughout Miami-Dade; omiami.org.

Poetry has the potential to lift the mundane, the unassuming, and even the disgusting into the realm of the sublime. At least that's the opinion of the organizers of O, Miami, whose mission is to ensure that everyone in Miami-Dade encounters poetry at some point in April, National Poetry Month. In the past, they've placed poetry on rooftops, at grocery-store checkouts, and in chainlink fences. They've also sponsored performances and organized readings, including a memorable one inside a Ferrari commemorating Paul Walker. Keep your eyes peeled.

Gloria

April 7 through May 6 at GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1119; gablestage.org.

From the mind of Obie Award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins comes this story of low-level staffers at a New York magazine dreaming of book deals and literary prizes, until a shocking event changes the trajectory of their careers and lives. This Pulitzer finalist earned raves from the New York Times for its exploration of workplace toxicity and violence.

Here & Now

April 12 through 14 at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami; 305-576-4350; miamilightproject.com.

In its dedication to fostering new work and supporting local artists, the Miami Light Project is hosting another year of Here & Now. Artists accepted into the festival are not only paid for the work they present at the festival but also given free rehearsal space and professional development beyond the exposure of the fest itself. If you're looking for the weird, the otherworldly, the passionate, and the new, this is the place to find it.

Fun Home

April 12 through May 13 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

Zoetic Stage was the first Florida company to be granted licensing for this critically acclaimed musical based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. The first Broadway play to feature a lesbian lead character, Fun Home follows the story of a woman remembering the discovery of her sexuality while coming to terms with the death of her closeted gay father. Through a patchwork of vignettes from her childhood, college, and present-day selves, Bechdel finds a way to reconcile her family's messy past with her own identity.

May 2018

"Sid Grossman"

May 18 through October 28 at Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-375-3000; pamm.org.

It might have been difficult to separate Sid Grossman's photography from his politics earlier in his life. A member of the U.S. Communist Party in the early 1940s, Grossman founded and worked in the Photo League in New York while exercising a strictly documentary form of photography. Later in life, he distanced himself from both Communist aesthetics and politics in favor of teaching photography, where he had a profound influence on successful artists in the medium. PAMM's selection focuses on work that blended Grossman's art with his activism.

The Album

May 31 through June 3 at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-1040; colonymb.org.

For its series Work in Progress, Miami New Drama is teaming up with Tony Award-nominated writer and director Moises Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project. The Album is the working title of a show inspired by the The Höcker Album, a compilation of photographs depicting Nazi soldiers in revelry while prisoners experienced true horror nearby. What results is a reflection on the intellectual dissonance that blinding hate can produce.

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