South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center Opens With Diavolo

Diavolo translates to "day" and "I fly," so the spanking new South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center hopes this Los Angeles-based performance troupe will help the center take off. With their outrageously surrealistic and large-scale interdisciplinary performances -- think larger than life-size everyday items such as doors, chairs, and stairways -- the Diavolo performers will fly, leap, and spin the audience into another dimension.

According to Eric Fliss, managing director for the arts center, he was looking for a troupe that was family friendly and dynamic, yet fit with the aesthetics of the new center. We caught up with Fliss to ask him about opening the new space and flying with Diavolo.

New Times: What was behind the construction of a performing arts center down south?

Eric Fliss: The center works within the master spoke-and-hub plan for spreading

culture throughout the county. We have cultural centers in downtown

Miami, the Beaches, Aventura, and now the Southwest corridor has its own

center. Since Miami's public transportation system doesn't allow for

residents to take advantage of all the venues around the county, the

county has brought the venues to them. South Dade didn't even have a

center, nothing, not even a building that could be renovated. This

center puts the southwest on the cultural map and will contribute to the

overall cultural fabric of Miami-Dade county.

What makes this center stand out?

The center is different because it is more than just a building, a

theater. It's a dynamic cultural arts center with a host of workspaces

open to local artists. We have two flexible spaces -- the lab theater

and a black box theater. These are spaces where the community and

community organizations can come to the cultural center and define who

they are as artists by providing them a space to work. The center also

has a rehearsal studio and concert lawn. We have a fiber optic link to

the New World Symphony on Miami Beach where, one day, live performances

can be transmitted ... The difference is that the center has an identity

that is defined by the community.

For the "soft opening" you're presenting Diavolo, a Los Angeles-based performance arts troupe. Why did you select them?

I was looking for events that were family friendly and I just wanted to

find something that is appealing across the spectrum. Diavolo uses large

architectural props on stage, and dance and perform on and around these

props throughout the performance. Since the building is an amazing

architectural structure, I thought Diavolo's sculptural elements would

mirror and reflect the architecture of the building. In a way, Diavolo

brings the spirit of the building to life.

What do you look for when you decide which acts to book?

The center looks for artists that engage our community. It could be

anything from a dance company that provides master classes, such as Doug

Varone, who will host workshops for the MacArthur Young Men's Academy,

to leading repertory companies. We want anyone coming from the outside

to know what we're all about and then develop a residency that is

meaningful to our community. Furthermore, many local performers are

looking forward to performing at the center. Music will also play a big

part of the center. We have a wonderful new relationship with the Asolo

Repertory Theatre of Sarasota, who will perform at the center once a

year for the next two years.

Tell us something you want everyone to know about the center?

One -- it's not far away! People automatically think we're too far, but

we're not. We're less than 40 minutes from North Beach, 25 minutes from

the airport, and we are right off the highway.

Two -- we have fabulous public art by Robert Chambers.

Three -- the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center is a living, breathing work of art.

Diavolo performs on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 at 8:00

p.m., 10950 S.W. 211th St., Miami. Tickets range from $10 to $20 and can

be purchased on-line at ticketweb.com. For more information call


--Neil de la Flor, artburstmiami.com

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