They flopped, naked, across the art gallery's floor. They looked like fish, struggling to return to water. As they flopped by your feet, you watched as the muscles propelled them around the room. You watched them flip from backside to frontside, and moved to get out of their way. The dancers from Rio de Janeiro put on quite a show, courtesy of Tigertail Productions. Mostly it was about movement, as a single man opened the performance by slowly, slowly moving his hand; and three women entangled themselves in each other so you couldn't tell whose hand belonged to which body, whose hair hung from what head. Eventually, on the eve of war, they put up a political protest (okay, sometimes bits of clothing kept coming off). At the end you couldn't help but look at the human body in a very different way, and maybe come away with some respect for other bodies about to be shocked and awed.

After dutifully plugging away at the Actors' Playhouse's usual lineup of tepid material, Arisco finally found the right vehicle for his considerable talents with the challenging, evocative Floyd Collins. Arisco's careful staging of the claustrophobic, emotionally powerful dialogue was balanced by his masterful handling of the carnival-like crowd scenes in a production that blew the roof off the staid Playhouse. Arisco has long shown his facility with a wide range of material -- from big, old-fashioned musicals to the inspired insanity of Comic Potential. But Floyd Collins reveals him to be a directing talent kept under wraps far too long.

He has long been regarded as the team's best defensive player and the most underrated cornerback in the league, often overshadowed by the team's other Pro Bowl corner, Sam Madison. But this season Surtain wasn't content to let his six interceptions speak for themselves. Having learned that media savvy can do as much for a career as game-day heroics, he announced that, after five years in the NFL, everyone had been pronouncing his name incorrectly. Surtain isn't supposed to rhyme with train, like sportscasters and fans had thought all along. The correct articulation is sir-tan, which made for excellent play-by-play fodder. Then, midway through this past season, his wife Michelle publicly campaigned for him to be given his overdue recognition as the best corner on the team. Apparently it paid off. He was picked for his first Pro Bowl, but also drew the ire and jealousy of his colleague Madison. Publicity stunts aside, Surtain is a game-breaker. Although running back Ricky Williams and defensive end Jason Taylor put up the most numbers, Surtain always sealed the deal when the team needed the big play. The last-second, one-handed interception that beat the eventual AFC champion Oakland Raiders was prime time.

Readers Choice: Ricky Williams

Miss Novak, dazzling in her trademark blond wig, ersatz pearls, and unshaven chest, was present at the New Times fifteenth anniversary party in December 2002. She had this to say: "Ohhhh, you work for New Times? I've got a bone to pick with you. Do you know I've never been chosen Best Drag Queen? This is stupid! You gave it to Elaine Lancaster twice, and I've been here at least as long as she has! One year you gave it to someone I never even heard of! Every queen in town can brag they've won this thing but me! I'm really good! I mean, who doesn't love me? I look like Shelley Winters! Nobody's doing what I'm doing! I'm funny! A lot of people aren't even funny! Did I say I've been here forever? How you guys can go on, year after year, and not select me, I don't know! I've been doing this ..." Or something like that. There was a fair amount of booze involved.

Local movie lovers erupted in thunderous applause on opening night, February 21, when FIU president Mitch Maidique finally publicly acknowledged former festival director Nat Chediak and his eighteen years at the helm. But if this year's resurgence in attendance is any guide, Miamians seem to be moving on from that nasty internal imbroglio and are supporting the festival for the films and filmmakers it can bring to the city. The 2003 event was not flawless. Some films were genuine stinkers, some great films got lost owing to poor programming times, and new director Nicole Guillemet (formerly of Sundance) and her team were arguably too ambitious with a program of record size plus a third venue to manage. Still, packed screenings for documentaries like José Padilha's intense hijacking drama Ônibus 174 bode well for the future. Onward!

In an age when nonstop, homogenized hip-hop thumps from virtually every FM station in Miami 24/7, Zeta's morning duo gets mad props for pushing the boundaries of bad taste: encouraging alcohol and drug abuse, subjecting women to ridicule and degradation on Wednesday's popular "Love Connection," enthusiastically promoting wholesale sexual deviancy. Paul and Ron began their "hectic revelry" shtick in 1990 on WSHE (now Miami's latest rap and R&B station). In 1995 Clear Channel, which owns both stations, moved them to Zeta, where their deliciously boorish behavior has been a fixture for the past eight years.

Readers Choice (tie): Kenny and Footy, Y-100 (WHYI-FM 100.7) and Paul Castronovo and Young Ron Brewer, Zeta (WZTA-FM 94.9)

Unfortunately, with the closing of Drama 101, competition for this award has dwindled further. But fortunately we still have Mad Cat. This troupe led by Paul Tei dares to be different. It doesn't always work, but that's what experimentation is all about. Mad Cat also has done a great service for Miami in attracting and developing that elusive "younger" audience. From Tin Box Boomerang, written by young local Ivonne Azurdia, about two Mexican-American sisters living in a trailer park; to Shoot, about three young girls and gun culture; and Azurdia's eerie reworking of Edgar Allan Poe in Portrait, this theater has offered up challenging, relevant, and resounding works. On the fringe? Way. And stay there.

Even as Riley (a former championship coach, and one of the NBA's top winners) saw his team take a nosedive in the standings and his pocketbook take a $70,000 hit for post-game tantrums about unfair referees, his hair remained unflappable. Riley has been rocking the evil-stockbroker, Armani-suits-and-slicked-back-coiffure look since the Eighties, and it doesn't look like he'll stop until he keels over (look for a sideline coronary next year if the Heat doesn't get a top-three draft pick) or the situation in the Middle East curtails production on petroleum-based hair-care products.

His stats aren't as good as those of Eddie Jones or Brian Grant, but this 6'7" forward is still a rookie. And while other rookies -- Houston's Yao Ming and Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire -- have caught the media's eye, Butler has played more minutes than any other rookie, and he consistently ranks among the top rookie scorers. He was picked tenth in the 2002 NBA draft, but he was Pat Riley's first pick, an encouraging start at rebuilding a team beset by age, injury, and illness. Butler beat even greater odds just getting to the NBA. The Wisconsin native was a young gang-banger, pushing cocaine for street dealers at age twelve, arrested more than a dozen times, and sentenced to eighteen months in a prison for youthful offenders by age fifteen. That turned out to be his big break. He spent a lot of time on the basketball court, discovered he had a gift -- and the rest is history. As it becomes increasingly clear that Grant and Jones aren't the franchise players their paychecks would suggest, the Heat's hopes for the future have come to rest on Butler's talented shoulders.

Readers Choice: Caron Butler

The searing image from this year's Fiesta Bowl was the collision that left Willis McGahee's knee twisted 45 degrees the wrong direction. The mighty Miami Hurricanes never fully recovered from losing their top rusher and scorer, a runner who demolished team records with 1753 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. Worse was McGahee's apparent personal loss. Before the gut-wrenching hit, he was slated to go early in the first round of this year's NFL draft, where big-money contracts are guaranteed. After the accident it seemed he might not ever play again. Fortunately McGahee had taken out a $2.5 million insurance policy shortly before the accident. But after just fifteen weeks of rehab and a miraculous recovery, he didn't need to collect on that policy. In the draft, the Buffalo Bills couldn't pass up this kid despite the blown knee. Why? No one came up bigger for the Canes in critical games last year. He made the Gators look hapless on the way to 204 rushing yards. He ground out 159 yards against Tennessee. And he found the end zone six times in the Virginia Tech game that catapulted the team to the national championship.

Readers Choice: Ken Dorsey

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®