PAN Celebrates Its Rise from the Ashes During Miami Dance Festival

Shaping Miami into the artistic hub that it's become couldn't have been done without the steady, decades-long priming by The Performing Arts Network (PAN) in North Miami.

PAN's founders have been on the frontlines of Miami's dance and performance scene since the 1980s. Nestled in a narrow commercial strip along West Dixie Highway, PAN's studios have bustled with a myriad of dances; from Caribbean folklore, flamenco and other world dance, to classical and contemporary. With PAN, countless Miami dancers, choreographers, playwrights, and actors had a place where they can get their ideas off the ground.

So when the building faced a devastating fire in 2009, it sent emotional ripples throughout the arts community. Not to worry! It's back with spacious studios and a black box theatre.

See also: FLA-FRA Festival Brings Francophone Creativity to Miami Stages

After a year in full operation, PAN is hosting a massive collaborative grand reopening performance Sunday, April 27, to be held as part of this year's Miami Dance Festival.

The free, 3 p.m. show titled Afternoon of the Phoenix features a load of dancers from companies such as Dance Now!, Momentum Dance Company, Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, Kuyayky, Harmonic Motion, the Children's African Dance Company, and individual artists who have taught, taken classes or performed at PAN throughout the years.

"In Afternoon of the Phoenix, they contribute their talents and energy to make this day an unforgettable experience of art and culture -- giving students, audiences, and artists an exciting glimpse into PAN's future," says Ilisa Rosal, founder of PAN and the artistic director of Ballet Flamenco de la Rosa, which is housed at the studio.

The Miami Dance Festival itself runs through Thursday, May 15, and features a mix of shows, lectures, films, and panel discussions throughout Miami-Dade County.

"It's an amazing opportunity to become familiar with all of these great artists," Rosal says, who's participated in the festival since its inception.

As part of the festival, Ballet Flamenco de la Rosa will perform Ritmo y Pasion on Sunday, May 4. The show seeks to explore flamenco in its purest form, to evoke its sensual and spiritual power with raw and electrifying footwork and movement, filled with both restrained passion and passionate release.

The production will feature live guitarists, El Sivi and Alex Jordan, along with singer Almudena -- all from Spain -- and choreography by the legendary flamenco soloist and choreographer, Manolete, who leads the La Chumbera International Flamenco School in Granada, Spain.

"It has a great energy because of the unique group of artists coming together. Each one has their own point of view, and when they collaborate, they create something new," Rosal says, stressing that flamenco is a collaborative art that fuses individualized expression from the dancers and musicians.

"It cannot be completely choreographed like other dance forms," she says. "There's input from the dancers and the live music."

Three new dancers joining the company for this performance are from Argentina, Cuba, and Venezuela. They, like the company's eclectic mix of existing dancers, have their own cultural interpretation of flamenco movement.

"These are some of the best flamenco artists in the U.S.," says Rosal. "It's going to be an exceptional event."

Afternoon of the Phoenix and PAN's grand re-opening celebration takes place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, 13146 West Dixie Hwy., North Miami. Admission is free. Food and refreshments will be provided. Ritmo y Pasion takes place at PAN at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 4. General admission is $20 in advance and $35 on the day of the show; 305-899-7730. Visit momentumdance.com.

-- Kai T. Hill, artburstmiami.com

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