The finalists in New Times' eighth-annual MasterMind Awards are a diverse bunch, representing the best locally created culture in South Florida. A group of editors and critics chose these nine talents from a pool of more than 80 applicants. The three winners, who will each receive a $750 grant, will be announced live onstage at Artopia, presented by Miracle Mile Downtown Coral Gables this Thursday night at the Coral Gables Museum. The finalists will show off their work at the event. Here's what you'll see.
"I just don't want [dance] to be about the movement. I have to have this whole other world that's incorporated within it."
Agatha Wright first stepped into a dance studio at the age of 3 for a ballet class in her native Rio de Janeiro. "I was hooked from day one," she remembers.
Though the years have passed and Wright now calls Miami home, her childlike wonder and whole-hearted adoration of dance remains. As the artistic director of the Agatha Wright Dance Co., she has dedicated her life to dance — not just as a performer but also as a choreographer and producer.
"What I've tried to do with my career is merge multiple skills and talents in order to cultivate dance-making — not just in terms of creating dance pieces, but also in producing shows and curating artists," Wright explains.
Though she has danced for Tony Award winner Tiffany Billings and worked alongside Alvin Ailey, dance wasn't the career path she followed from the get-go. After high school, she spent three years in the Army.
"I wanted to experience the world in a new way and create tougher skin for myself," she explains. "After I served my three years, I was like, I gotta go back now. I need to go get an education."
Wright moved to Los Angeles and attended the University of California, where she earned a degree in art history with an emphasis in performing arts — elements she incorporates into her work.
"I just don't want [dance] to be about the movement. I have to have this whole other world that's incorporated within it. When you start producing shows and take the autonomy of creating a body of work, you start looking at it differently."
And one of her latest productions, Flux — which tells the story of the human life cycle and the physical, spiritual, and mental stages from which we evolve — epitomizes that philosophy.
"The word actually means continuous movement," she says of the work's title. "The show has a life of its own."
In addition to producing Flux, Wright — in partnership with the Strive Network at the MUSE Center for the Arts — has linked up with Guild 5 Forty Five and the Stella Design Group for this upcoming season, which will be curated by the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. And though Wright is excited about what 2017 has in store, as an art historian and dancer, she also has a goal to take dance into museums.
"I think dance is an art form equal to painting and sculpture. I [think of] every piece as a piece of art that I'm making."