Giovanni Luquini wants to free your mind
It's not dance, and it's not theater. It's cinematographic, but it's not a movie. You might call it operatic or architectural. Or maybe you'd just throw up your hands and quit trying to categorize it at all. That's probably what Giovanni Luquini hopes you'll do: The Miami-based choreographer wants you to drop your preconceptions. Luquini's latest work, "A Poem: the Battle between Fear and Desire," debuts this weekend at Byron Caryle Theater, 500 71st St., Miami Beach, with an all-female cast of five American, Cuban-American, Finnish, and Brazilian dancers, writers, actors, singers, and gymnasts. Commissioned in part by Miami Dade community College, "A Poem" is also the Brazilian-born Luquini's third collaboration with local turntable wizard DJ Le Spam (Andrew Yeomanson), whose Spam Allstars draw huge crowds to shows all over Florida. Le Spam has long proved he can get people moving on the dance floor. To add one more ingredient to this heady mix, Luquini draws on elements of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art developed by slaves, who disguised it as dance to divert The Man from their more subversive intentions. "We wanted to explore the compression of meaning that poetry uses to evoke sensations, images, and ideas, and try and translate that to the stage," the choreographer explains. "A poem says things there are no other words for.... When you see an amazing image or scene performed, you can't even talk about it." That's one reason Luquini trusts intuition as the basis for so much of his work, and why he relies on collaboration -- the synergy created when a group of intelligent people put their minds to one task. It sheds light on why he relishes the accidental, like the way filmmaker Ernesto Fundora, who has created images for "A Poem," came into the process "unexpectedly, intuitively." In other words, words fail. "I expect people to have to puzzle out my work a little," Luquini says. "If not, what would be the fun? We need theater now more than ever. I just want to make art." Tickets range from $18 to $24. Call 305-237-3010. -- Gail Shepherd
Style By Fire
Prepare to indulge in the erotic metamorphosis when mother Earth is personified as a gyrating, finger-snapping, fire-wielding seductress. Careful not to let those outies hit you in the face as the modern incarnation of belly dance fuses Old School with New World sensuality in a performance aptly named "Spellbound." An alternative to classical belly dance intended as a representation of the Earth, her elements, and, of course, her fertility, takes place tonight at the Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater, 17051 NE Nineteenth Ave. Audience members are invited to become pyromaniacs as local dance company Urban Goddess displays their command of steamy pelvic thrusts accented by a barrage of fire props. If you require a little more crunk in your trunk, then California-based Ultra Gypsy will wow you with their signature fusion of hip-hop and bhangra rhythms. Tonight's show starts at 8:00 and features more naked navels than you can shake a stick at. For those so mesmerized they must learn all the secrets, a full day of workshops will benefit beginners to pros. Tickets are from $18 to $25. Call 754-244-4784 or visit www.gypsymuze.com. -- Kris Conesa
Spellbound and Tie-Dyed
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The air is cooler and this is the last weekend before the holiday madness begins, so slide into your best dancing Birkenstocks, dab a little patchouli behind your ears, and head down to the Amelia Folk Festival for a skirt-twirling good time. Acoustic strains and drum circle beats from local folk musicians will pull you to your feet and have you shaking it like a sea salt shaker all afternoon. Don't be surprised if you hear the drone of an aboriginal didjeridoo, the hippest hippy wind instrument since the pan flute and all the rage on this year's folk music circuit. Plenty of food vendors will be on hand to satiate your falafel and hummus cravings as you take a break from all the tambourine banging and hacky sack tossing. Admission is free with $4 parking fee per vehicle. The fun starts this morning at 11:00, at the Bill Graham Farm Village at Amelia Earhart Park, 401 E. 65th St., Hialeah. Call 305-685-8389. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
A fierce traditionalist considered by many to be the rightful heir to Beethoven's composing crown, Johannes Brahms began as a pianist and earned his chops as a teenager playing dives that were to nineteenth-century Germany what Churchill's is to Miami. Despite enormous pressure he fought off the radicalism of Liszt and Wagner and stuck to his classical guns, creating four magnificent symphonies, and a bunch of killer concertos. Seeking the beauty and purity of Mozart and Haydn, Brahms's work tends toward the melancholic, and sometimes even dark. His final big composition will get its due when the New World Symphony drops it under the hand of former violinist (he gave up playing in 1995 after a hand injury) Peter Oundjian, who has conducted dozens of orchestras to roundly positive reviews since picking up the baton. Some Janácek and Haydn's Piano Concerto in D major will also be featured. Oundjian leads the NWS through Brahms's fourth and final symphony tonight and Saturday at 8:00 at the Lincoln Theater, 541 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. Tickets range from $25 to $69. Call 305-673-3331 or visit www.nws.edu. -- Greg Baker