Donning bright-blue frames, a loose-fitting dress, and not a stitch of makeup, Rosie Herrera glides into Starbucks like a beam of light. Once seated, she fidgets in her cushy chair, stretching her legs and moving her limbs. When emphasizing a point, she leans in over the armrest. It's obvious she's a dancer. As she so fittingly quips, "Movement never lies."
Rosie's impact on Miami's performing arts landscape is indisputable. From creations such as Various Stages of Drowning to Dining Alone, she has earned critical acclaim and national recognition for her choreography.
"Every performer I work with is a creator; they're not just dancers," she says. "I work with people who are on a national scale as contenders — they're quite brilliant artists."
Hailing from New World School of the Arts, Herrera has been taking the stage professionally since the tender age of 15, when she won a role as the "World's Shortest Showgirl." As a child, she wrote, produced, and starred in shows for her family, so center stage is second nature to this choreographer, dancer, singer, puppeteer, and creative whirlwind of a woman.
Her pieces, often humorous, bizarre, or surreal, delve into the breadth of human experience, addressing everything from the struggles of aging to the anguish of loss. She says her gut is her primary source of inspiration. And it's this infallible intuition that has kept her from ever suffering a creative block.
Yet despite her rising-star status, she exudes candor and an unaffected poise. She assures us the process is never easy.
"Every artist struggles with thinking they're a fraud. You want to be everything, but you can only be yourself. In the end, you just have to trust your instincts."
She quickly steers the conversation away from herself to rave about the members of her team and the creative power of Miami's performers. She hopes the spotlight shining on her will also illuminate those around her and the wealth of underrated talent that Miami offers.
"It's about bringing some attention from some pretty significant people to the performers I most care about and love," she says. "When I have the opportunity to showcase these performers, I feel very privileged to do so."
And as her company's success continues (its New York debut kicks off early next year), her devotion to her home city never wavers.
"Miami has a long reputation of producing some phenomenal performers but not retaining them. And the reason we don't retain them is that we haven't had enough opportunities to keep artists here in Miami. But it's changing."
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And Herrera is part of the reason why. In the end, this is a person who's doing what she was born to do.
"You have to make your life, and you have to make it exactly how you want it," she says unabashedly.
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