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Ah, Youth Art

The rubbery Ribinha

When the chocolate on the S'mores has melted and the last round of "Kum Ba Ya" crooned around the fire fades to Lil' Kim, whose camp is it anyway? Designed to keep the kids inspired and out of others' hair, summer activities belong to parents. This season one of the most innovative camps around town was the East Little Havana Summer Youth Project, sponsored by Tigertail Productions, known for its annual Florida/Brazil Festival (FLA/BRA). The endeavor, which lasted nine weeks, paired kids up not with social workers, camp counselors, or -- heaven forbid! -- den mothers, but local artists. Elementary and middle school-age children devoted hours to working with actors, dancers, and visual artists. The focus: a true mentorship between children and someone who has excelled creatively.

Products of the joint effort include an art show at Little Havana's lab6. Commencing this Friday, the display, curated by conceptual artist Vivian Marthell, will feature masks, puppets, photographs, and poetry created by the kids over the past few weeks.

In an artsy outdoor finale this Saturday at José Martí Park, two of the project's dance instructors and their troupes will present some of their latest works. Carlos "Ribinha" Martins of Brazil will demonstrate capoeira, the dynamic athletic discipline that mixes martial arts and dance. Live music and singing will accompany the movement, a legacy of Northern Brazil's onetime slave populations. Dances inspired by the creations of Africans sent to slavery in Cuba will flow from Iroko Afro-Cuban Dance Theater, which will show off an excerpt of a recent collaboration. Now in its tenth year, the company, founded by Cuban dancer/choreographer Elena Garcia, is renowned for its distinctive meshing of Afro-Cuban folklore and modern dance.

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