Remember when Grandpa burned down the Christmas tree because he got so angry at your uncle's politics? How about when your sister-in-law cut off your ponytail while playing spin the dreidel during Hanukkah? And who can forget that crappy Kwanzaa when your cousins started a food fight over artistic differences during the traditional dance? Vent about these warm, cuddly holiday memories at Storypalooza!: The Horrible Holidays Edition at Gramps (176 NW 24th St., Miami) Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. At this Moth-style storytelling event (AKA therapy session), you can share your true story in front of a live audience and receive feedback from the founder and coproducers of Lip Service: True Stories Out Loud. Just drop your 500-word story in a hat, and cross your fingers to be chosen. Feeling some stage fright? Grab a drink, because Gramps' happy-hour prices will be extended. The event is free. Visit miamibookfair.com.
Here's a revelation for anyone who thinks modern dance originated with Madonna or Lady Gaga. Surprise! It actually dates back more than half a century thanks to remarkable women such as the late Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, and Katherine Dunham, each an artistic visionary who expanded the staid parameters of traditional choreography into new and daring artistic realms. It's in that spirit that the work Humphrey herself created in 1953, Ritmo Jondo, continues to fascinate audiences with its flamenco-inspired celebration of Spanish music and tradition. And what better place to present the work than Miami, where it will receive a Florida premiere under the direction of Daniel Lewis, former dean of dance at New World School of the Arts, and come courtesy of South Florida's award-winning Dance Now! company and the National Endowment for the Arts. A brash and dramatic counterpoint between machismo and feminine sensuality, Ritmo Jondo reminds us that history and heritage still play a major role in the creation and presentation of even the most daring expressive designs. Lewis will introduce the evening's performance, which will also include two original presentations by Dance Now! codirectors Diego Salterini and Hannah Baumgarten. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Colony Theatre (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Tickets cost $35 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors (at the box office, in person only), and $50 for VIP, who can experience a backstage reception with the artists following the performance. Regular-priced tickets can be purchased by visiting tinyurl.com/RitmosJondoTix, calling 800-211-1414, or going to the Colony Theatre box office.
The holidays are a time of tradition. For years, families have been trimming trees, singing centuries-old songs, and telling small children about a fat guy with a beard who leaves them presents in the night. And in Miami, a more recent Christmas tradition has emerged: Miami City Ballet's annual performances of The Nutcracker at the Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). George Balanchine's festive ballet follows a little girl, Marie, and her Nutcracker prince through a magical winterscape populated with sugar-plum fairies and dancing snowflakes. The show's run begins this Saturday with an afternoon performance at 2 p.m. and continues through Christmas Eve. Tickets cost $25 to $89. Visit arshtcenter.org.
There's no escaping the festive holiday spirit — even in the perpetually hot weather of the 305 — but nothing beats celebrating the most magical time of the than with Santa Claus, lighted zoo-creature sightings, and glistening palm trees. Yep, Zoo Lights is back. Decking out the grounds of Zoo Miami (12400 SW 152nd St., Miami) with more than a half-million lights, the two-week holiday spectacle makes kids and even grown-up Grinches feel jolly. Explore the zoo at night to see giant illuminated sculptures of giraffes, elephants, peacocks, and other animals — all in 3D. Enjoy free carousel rides for the little ones, hot chocolate and cookies, and plenty of holiday music. With all of that Christmas magic, you'll feel as if you're at the North Pole — sans snow. Zoo Lights kicks off this Saturday and runs through December 30 from 7 to 10 p.m. Zoo Miami will be closed December 24 and 25. Tickets to Zoo Lights cost $9.95 plus fees. Children aged 2 or younger get in free. Visit zoomiami.org or call 305-251-0400.
A vegan market might seem more San Fran than Miami, but our sweltering city is evolving every day. And Paulie Gee's (8001 Biscayne Blvd., Miami), the Brooklyn-based pizza chain whose Miami outpost recently opened on Biscayne Boulevard, is ground zero for a cruelty-free shopping extravaganza. This inaugural event is The Market, Vegan Edition, and it's the perfect place to wrap up (so to speak) your Christmas shopping. The market will include a whole host of vendors specializing in food, art, fashion, and beauty. Participants will include Half Baked Vegan, 4 Elementum, Sugar Luxe Society, and many others. Pick up some lipstick, a few sweet treats, aromatherapy swag, and lots of other goodies. Then stick around for some vegan pizza. (The cashew ricotta is a must-try.) The market runs Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Visit facebook.com/pauliegeesmiami or call 786-558-8315.
The holidays are finally here. Here's to gift-wrapping, feasting, and, best of all, singing to festive music. Practice your fa-la-la-la-la's at New World Center's outdoor Wallcast Concert: Sounds of the Season at SoundScape Park (400 17th St., Miami Beach) this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The free concert will feature the live New World Symphony projected onto a larger-than-life outdoor screen. Conductor Dean Whiteside will present a classic and nostalgic program including Tchaikovsky's Suite From the Nutcracker, Greensleeves, and Feliz Navidad. If you're a Miami Beach resident, you can see the performance for free inside the New World Center. The orchestra will also play Sounds of the Season Friday at 7:30 p.m., indoors only. Tickets for Saturday night's show cost $40. Visit nws.edu or call 305-673-3331.
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Want to learn how to meditate? No need to surrender your worldly possessions and check into an ashram. Turns out a Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics ticket is all you need. American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) will be home to the largest-ever mass meditation at a sporting event. Before the game, thousands of attendees will participate in a mindful moment led by Davidji (the first dean of Chopra Center University) and stress-management expert Shelly Tygielski. Basically, it's a Zen moment before the madness. Earlier in the day, a full-scale meditation fest will set up on the Xfinity East Plaza. There, ticket-holders can shop, mingle, learn more about meditation, and visit with local practitioners. Think of it as your jump ball into mindfulness mastery. Heat Nation Meditation runs Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., and the Heat/Celtics game starts at 5. Tickets to the festival cost $30 each and include game admission. Visit heatnationmeditation.com.
Not everything about the holidays is warm, fuzzy, and festive. Take, for example, shopping for gifts. You can do it online in your underwear, which is detached and impersonal (not to mention the added cost of shipping). Or you can brave the zombie-like hordes at the malls, elbowing your way through crowds to snatch that perfume set for Grandma before one of your fellow shoppers/mortal enemies grabs it first. This year, however, there's another way: the Miami Flea 2016 Grand Finale at Arts + Entertainment District (1440 N. Miami Ave., Miami). The recurring artisan market pops up this Sunday just in time for your shopping deadline, with clothing, plants, chocolates, accessories, antiques, and many other items. There'll be a gift-wrapping station and a holiday-themed crafting corner to keep the kids busy while you check everyone off your list. And you can do it all to the sounds of live local music — a nice reprieve from yet another round of Michael Bublé's cringe-worthy "Santa Baby." The flea runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Visit aedistrictmiami.com.
Sometimes the greatest accomplishments come from those with the greatest struggles. Such is the case for famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. In the middle of his battle with an early-onset slow-progressing form of ALS — which eventually affected his motor skills and speech, forcing him to use a wheelchair and a computerized voice system — Hawking continued spitting out theory after theory, earning numerous honorary degrees along the way, and publishing several best-selling books. And he did it all with the love and support of his wife, Jane Wilde, by his side. James Marsh's 2015 Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything tells the love story of Hawking and Wilde. Shortly after he met Wilde at Cambridge University and fell in love, Hawking was diagnosed with the deadly illness and given two years to live. In spite of it all, Wilde insisted on staying together, and the two decided to get married and start a family. Over the course of their marriage, Hawking's fame soared, and the struggles of marriage found their way in. Though their story is not a typical romance, the film captures the essence of what it means to truly love someone. The Theory of Everything will screen at SoundScape Park (400 17th St., Miami Beach) Wednesday at 8 p.m., rain or shine. Admission is free. Visit mbculture.com or call 305-673-7000.