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Miami Could Be the Next Great Cabaret City, With Help From the Knight Arts Challenge

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Circ X was one of 49 lucky winners of the Knight Arts Challenge, announced on Dec. 3. But Miami should also be considered as a winner. Thanks to the challenge that funds projects of our deserving local artists, Miami will now have its very own permanent resident cabaret.

Circ X -- a theatrical circus and production company that combines corporal mime, contemporary dance, circus arts, and burlesque -- and the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater were awarded $50,000 to transform the greenroom at the Gleason into a permanent space for regular performances.

Diana Lozano, Circ X performance artist, director, and designer, is at the forefront of the cabaret scene in Miami. One, she says, that is free of "striptease or meaningless chair dance choreographies."

From the very beginning, Lozano wanted to stay true to the artistry that is real burlesque. "A more authentic example of modern day burlesque would best be demonstrated by the animations of South Park or " the mock news of The Daily Show. Not so much a girl simply taking off her clothes. There needs to be some sort of twist. This is what I am interested in," says Lozano.

In 2002, she founded the theatrical circus and production company. As a designer, she has created thousands of costumes and characters for national tours and local productions.

It's been a long yet rewarding way up ever since for Lozano and her team, which features a wide range of Miami performance artists and visionaries.

Through the Miami Light Project in 2008, Lozano was able to choreograph an original work for the Here and Now Festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Then in 2009, Circ X was featured on the Travel Channel for directing and producing Miami's longest running modern cabaret. Most recently, Lozano produced a three-hour spectacular at the Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater in celebration of the company's 10 year anniversary.

For the past decade, Circ X has produced cabaret style productions at a variety of venues throughout South Florida. As they approached their 10 year anniversary, Lozano wanted to celebrate on a grander scale by producing a burlesque/cabaret show at an actual theater, so she approached Brandon Barry, the General Manger at the Fillmore about the possibility. Barry had the same vision as Lozano for the greenroom at the back of the Gleason.

However, this wasn't the first time Lozano had applied for the Knights Art Challenge. She applied last year with a similar concept, and although she did not make it past the first round, she remained undeterred. She launched a Kickstarter campaign to create one show at the space and with the help of the funds she raised, she was able to expand her cast to 30 performers and a production that was three hours long. The production had grown so large that they had to perform on the Main Stage of the Fillmore instead of the back as they had originally intended. That night, it was a packed house.

"I knew then that Miami was ready and hungry for this type of entertainment," says Lozano. "With this experience under my belt, I applied to the Knights Art Challenge the following year and this time I was a winner. In retrospect, I am really happy it turned out this way, as I now feel truly ready to tackle this next challenge."

The new show will be composed of a variety of short format acts, created and developed by the Circ X cast and select guest and out of town artists. They will feature everything from large-scale choreographies to solo pieces and theatrical circus acts. Priced roughly the same as a movie ticket, Lozano hopes to entice a new audience to the world of live performance. "There seems to be a large gap between the theater-going community and the nightlife world in Miami," says Lozano. "This show aims to bridge that gap. I want it to be cultural, entertaining and affordable."

In addition, Lozano also aims to put Miami on the map as a cabaret city. "Cities across America have their own thriving cabarets, [so] it's wild that a city so rich with talent would not have a venue to feature such work," says Lozano.

Next up, Circ X will be hard at work to match the grant dollar for dollar. A fundraiser and auction is already in the works for next February at Haven Lounge on South Beach, where there will be plenty of interactive entertainment and a digital exhibition of Circ X's images displayed on the lounge's LED screen walls.

"It's the ultimate validation for what we do," says Lozano on winning the grant. "The past decade had been a struggle as we walked the line between the corporate "fast food style" entertainment world and the underground night club scene. One paid the bills, the other gave us the freedom to play and risk."

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