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Siudy Between Worlds: Love in the Time of a Flamenco Apocalypse

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Romeo and Juliet struggle through a Mad Max world to the sensuality, discipline and stirring rhythms of flamenco as warring tribes compete for resources in the aftermath of civilization's collapse. No, not a drug-assisted night at an edgy Latin dance club on South Beach but the basic plots of Siudy Entre Mundos (Siudy Between Worlds), Pablo Croce's flamenco production starring Venezuelan choreographer and dancer, Siudy Garrido coming to the Arsht Center this Saturday and Sunday.

Executive producer Pablo Croce, celebrated film-maker and Latin Grammy nominee, took a few moments from preparing for the show's return to South Florida to guide us through this post-apocalyptic land of exotic dance. Originally staged in 2009, following the economic and political troubles Spain experienced, Croce said that events like these were in his mind during the show's development. But then so were so many other recent global events similarly apocalyptic in kind.

"If I were to put together notable events that have occurred over the last 15 years and show them to you in 15 seconds, you would be dramatically affected by the sorts of things that have been happening," he explains.

See also: Flamenco Festival's Celia Fonta: "Flamenco 'Alante' is an Endangered Art"

This is also a strategy -- Siudy was not born in Spain. She began her dance studies at the age of five in her mother's dance academy in Caracas. "Today, she is recognized worldwide as a barrier-breaking artist, fusing traditional and contemporary techniques into an approach to flamenco that's entirely her own."

Croce points out that this show should not be judged as flamenco would be in Seville and Madrid. It is a fantasia, a primitive scene from a possible future that relies on elements from Broadway productions and film.

Keeping to the theme of fantasia, choreographer Siudy incorporates contemporary dance styles, like hip hop, as well. Traditional Flamenco and spontaneous hip hop might seem to have little in common, but Croce noted their similar origins. Certainly, flamenco is complex and takes a long time to study but, for Croce, the fusion with hip hop is a nod to flamenco's birth in Triana, where the rhythms were made simply by someone fingering the guitar while someone else knocked out a rhythm on a table top. "Originally, it was something that someone just picked up from the streets -- it was spontaneous and continuously changing."

This is very similar to hip hop, which also comes from urban areas where there may be little or no access to established music or dance education. Fusing these dance forms ambitiously seeks to satisfy audience members educated in flamenco tradition, drawn to the show for the perfected, pure art form while giving the flamenco first-timer something familiar by anchoring their inaugural experience of flamenco on these contemporary dance forms. As it turns out, though, the production's uniqueness is appropriate given its producer. An award-winning filmmaker with MTV credits, Croce also finds himself between worlds in his work on this theatrical dance journey.

Croce's background shows up most in the production's narratives. "There are two stories here -- there are the references I make to movies like Mad Max and The Hunger Games, but there is also the love story between Siudy and George Akram, acclaimed Broadway star of West Side Story, who plays Siudy's love interest."

As Croce sees it, the production's filmic elements reinforce the show's overall project to bring the enthusiast a night of traditional flamenco while also hooking a younger generation on its rhythms with the hope of sustaining and growing flamenco's audience during uncertain times.

Siudy Between Worlds will be performed Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; tickets range from $39 to $129. Visit arshtcenter.org.

-- Sean Erwin, artburstmiami.com

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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