Ballet is back with a bang
After nineteen seasons of bringing high culture to the Magic City, the directors of the Miami City Ballet know what the people want to see: passion, fluid beauty, and spectacle. With this season's opening program, the dancers are ready to give you what you want in spades. In addition to a piece by ballet icon George Balanchine, the company will premiere two works by contemporary choreographers Paul Taylor and Trey McIntyre. Piazzolla Caldera is Taylor's attempt to capture the thrilling sensuality of tango without having his twelve dancers perform any moves traditionally associated with Argentina's signature dance. It features music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky. The costumes -- flowery dresses and pinstriped suits designed by Santo Loquasto and Haydée Morales -- mimic the fashion of the early Twentieth Century, when the tango was exceptionally popular worldwide. This is the only time the work has been performed outside the Paul Taylor Company. Second on the program is the Miami City Ballet's first presentation of a work by McIntyre, a rising star in choreography circles. Classical and cutting edge at the same time, Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry is set to Antonín Dvorák's Serenade for Strings in E Minor and was premiered to great acclaim last year by the Washington Ballet. Two of those eight original cast members staged this production. The evening ends with George Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15. Five principal women, their three male partners, and a corps of eight dancers perform a graceful ballet accented by elaborate costumes and staging. While the elegant patterns of the ballet are set to Mozart's Divertimento No. 15 in B Flat, it's Balanchine's Russian heritage that gets the star treatment here. Come an hour before curtain for a preperformance talk by artistic director Edward Villella. The dancing commences at 8:00 p.m. at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets range from $19.90 to $87.90. Get to the box office an hour and a half before the show and you may be able to buy a rush ticket for one-third the price. Call 305-673-7300 or visit www.miamicityballet.org. -- Margaret Griffis
The Whirling Dervishes are here
Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria, is a hilly place with aged mosques and a population of nearly two million. Set in a valley and cut through by the Quweiq River, the trade hub caught the attention of a picaresque zither player named Julien Jalal Weiss more than twenty years ago. Weiss, a Frenchman who had been traveling through North Africa, was delighted to find the lively music scene in the ancient city and, by 1983, had formed Al Kindi Ensemble, which launched its first international tour in 2001 and made a stop in Miami. The group (which also features lute, percussion, and flute) was a hit and is back for an encore tonight at 8:00 at the Gusman Theater of the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler St.). The Arabic classical music of Al Kindi features a choir and the mesmerizing dancing of the Whirling Dervishes of Damascus. The spectacular spinning of the dancers represents a mystical aspect of the Sufi sect of Islam and achieves a cosmic beauty through its precision and skirt-billowing energy. Tickets cost $25 and $45. Call 305-672-5202 or visit www.rhythmfoundation.com. -- Greg Baker
Fabulous musical dares to dream
High school years were supposed to be the best of your life. But for many of us that proved to be a load of bull. They can also be a hellish period during which insecurity can leave permanent scars. Howard Crabtree faced his horrible high school memories head on. His off-Broadway hit, When Pigs Fly, starts with young, gay Howard having his dreams of Broadway success crushed by his guidance counselor, then spirals into a fantastic, flamboyant musical. Crabtree completed this merry musical tribute to his detractors just six days before his death in 1996. Featuring songs such as "Not All Man," "Shaft of Love," and "Wear Your Vanity with Pride," When Pigs Fly is an outrageous, hilarious, rebellious rallying cry to follow your dreams and be yourself. See it tonight at 7:30 at the Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets range from $27 to $29 and can be purchased at the box office. Call 954-462-0222 or visit www.browardcenter.org. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
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In traditional Haitian dance, folklore is brought to life for a spirited history lesson. Some dances celebrate the liberation of slaves, some pay tribute to fallen warriors, others honor the spirit of the dead. Common themes of human struggle and the celebration of life and death all form the roots or rasin of Haitian culture. At Rasin 2004, the eleventh annual Haitian Roots Music Festival, the Haitian community invites everyone to get schooled in some of what Haiti has to offer. Performers include Koudjay, Carimi, Kanpech, Azor, Jahnesta, and the legendary Boukman Eksperyans. There will also be traditional costumes, folkloric dance, ethnic foods, and a kid zone. Besides the historical significance, the festival works to affirm Haiti's national identity by providing an alternative view to the scenes of turmoil often found on the nightly news. Advance tickets cost $20 and admission for children under twelve is free. Rasin Fest gets underway this afternoon at 4:00 at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd. Call 305-757-9555 or visit www.rasinfest.com. -- Terra Sullivan