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Miami Performance International Festival: Performance Art, No Unitard Required

As art genres go, performance art is perhaps to most easily mocked. You know the stereotype: a guy in an embarrassingly snug unitard takes the stage and does the whole "cocoon-to-butterfly dance" thing. Small wonder it's so easily written off by audiences.

Charo Oquet is out to change that.

Next month, she's helping to launch the Miami Performance International Festival, the first edition of what she hopes will become an annual event celebrating performance art in the Magic City.

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"It's the first one of just performance art. And there's a difference, you know?" Oquet said. "When you say 'performance,' people think of music, they think of theater, they think of dance. But really, this is more about artistic, more conceptual performance.

"There are people doing [performance art] here," she continued. "Miami has some very good performance artists. But there hasn't been something that groups them."

Set for July 26-29, the festival has confirmed more than 30 artists from all over the world: Germany, Spain, Argentina, and yes, even Miami. In fact, Miami will be best represented at the festival, with 13 performance artists showing their work, including Oquet herself. ("I have some ideas," Oquet admitted of her own performance, "but it is still vague.") The Dominican Republic also boasts a large contingent -- 10 artists either attending or sending videos for display -- due to Oquet's extensive work with artists in that region. In fact, the idea to launch a performance art festival in Miami came from the Santo Domingo-born artist's experiences attending similar events in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

"We saw what these artists were doing [elsewhere], and we thought, 'There's no reason we couldn't do this in Miami,'" she remembered.

Though no schedule of performances has yet been released, Oquet said the festival will contain performances throughout its four-day run at venues across Miami, including the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and CCEM. All will be free to the public. And of course, like any good Miami festival, it'll all wrap up with a rowdy closing party.

"Of course," Oquet said, "you have to celebrate. This is Miami."

Visit miamiperformancefestival.org.

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