By BROOKE HENDERSON
Special to the South Florida Times
Bread and Circuses. The ancient Roman emperors maintained order with a simple strategy of encouraging the arts, consequently creating a public venue for their citizens to voice their opinions. Then and now, the arts have the power hold together a society. Whether theater, dance or music, the arts break down barriers and create awareness.
This is seen today in story tellers like Roberto “Simply Rob” Vassilarakis, an HIV/AIDS and Gay Rights activist. Earlier this month, he brought together a cross-section of students spanning gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation in a performance at Broward College’s South Campus Performing and Cultural Arts Theatre. The campus hosts the OVERHEARD Series, an assortment of individual performances from both nationally acclaimed local innovative performers.
Similarly, The Women’s Theatre Project of Boca Raton is a company striving to smash stereotypes of women perpetuated by the media and to create more professional theatrical opportunities for women of all shapes, ages, and races.
These are some of the highlights of the 2014-2015 Season of the Arts.
Time blurs across a stage, where history and childhood can be brought back at the twirl of a hem or the first note in theme song. The Adrienne Arsht Center will prove its mastery of both the past and your guilty pleasures this season with the help of Peter Pan and Lucy Ricardo. Starting from October 9th until October 26th, Rick Elice’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHER will capture imaginations as it divulges just how Peter Pan became The Boy Who Never Grew Up. Then the clocks will turn back from September 30th to October 5th to 1952. I Love Lucy Live on Stage will revive America’s favorite program in television history— this time in color.
The arts offer a chance for self-expression. It is worth stopping in on any one of the productions this season to contour your inner world into a concrete reality. At the Rhythm of the Heart Workshop, attendees will experience the unique fusion of sacred mantras with contemporary music performed by Visvambhar from The Mayapuris and learn the elements of the ancient Indian kirtan music for themselves. It is collaboration at its finest.
It is that kind of group effort that is celebrated in theater and performance. Individuality is revered, but the work of cast is to be cherished. On Nov. 7 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Diavolo’s Architecture in Motion will show just what a strong lineup of performers can build together. The company weaves an abstract narrative of the human condition, using continually shifting surreal architectural structures as a setting. With Jacques Heim as Artistic Director, each motion is thoughtful and captivating with a hint of danger as these dancers test their athleticism against architectural engineering.
The images are poignant, just like those of another company visiting the Kravis Center this season — the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Deemed “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” by a U.S. congressional resolution in 2008, this company preserves the rich heritage of American modern dance with respect to the African American experience. Among the possible programs to be revealed on February 24th is Robert Battle’s Takademe and Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16. Takademe is full of soaring jumps, Indian dance rhythms, and humor set to Sheila Chandra’s syncopated score. In Minus 16, dancers challenge themselves to an extensive range of music, from techno to the traditional sounds of Israel. An almost cinematic experience is waiting for all those lucky enough to witness these choreographies.
South Florida doesn’t have a Colosseum, but it does have the Parker Playhouse. And the GableStage. And the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. And the Improve Comedy Club and Dinner Theater. You get the picture.