Arts Pioneers: Profiles of South Florida’s cultural groundbreakers

South Florida’s current rich cultural scene is largely rooted in the ’80s, a decade during which many of the city’s key arts institutions and events were launched, transforming what was largely derided as a cultural wasteland into a city with all the elements of an artistically vibrant community.

This extraordinary burst of civic and creative energy was all the more remarkable in that it followed a series of disasters: the violent “Cocaine Cowboy” drug cartel struggles in the ’70s, the Mariel boatlift and the 1980 Liberty City riots, which famously led Time magazine to dub Miami “Paradise Lost.” Instead, a small group of artistic and civic visionaries, backed by political and business leaders who saw (or were persuaded to see) the arts as a lifeline for their beleaguered city, started the enterprises that would turn Miami into a thriving artistic center. Here are the stories of those ventures’ beginnings, and of the transformation of South Florida.

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Top 10 Dance Events in South Florida

Miami City Ballet in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. March 18-20 at the Adrienne Arsht Center, April 1-3 at the Kravis Center and April 9-10 at the Broward Center.

Miami’s terrific hometown ballet company celebrates its 30th season with substantial favorites (such as Liam Scarlett’s rocket-powered Viscera and George Balanchine’s exquisite version of the second act of Swan Lake on Program I) and intriguing company premieres (Justin Peck’s breakout ballet Year of the Rabbit on Program III and New York City Ballet artistic director Peter Martin’s Barber Violin Concerto on Program II). But the blockbuster is its original production of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which re-imagines this rarely done, evening-length version of Shakespeare’s magical tale for Miami, with direction by Tarell Alvin McCraney and new sets and costumes by Michele Oka Doner.

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MCB Celebrates 30th Anniversary

As Miami City Ballet celebrates its new season – and 30th anniversary – founder Toby Lerner Ansin keeps dancers on their toes

Miami City Ballet founder Toby Lerner Ansin was thrilled to win the prestigious Dance/USA Champion Award earlier this year at Pérez Art Museum Miami. But she got an even bigger kick out of her daughter Stephanie’s introductory speech.

“It was really phenomenal,” says Lerner, 74, a cultural pioneer whose MCB launched 30 years ago. “Everyone was complimenting me on what a beautiful job she’d done.”

For Ansin, ballet and family are intertwined. Stephanie Ansin is following in her mother’s cultural footsteps as founder/artistic director of the Miami Theater Center, and Ansin’s granddaughter studies ballet at the Miami Conservatory – the same place Toby did.

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Exploring the Art of Michele Oka Doner

In this recent article published in The Wall Street Journal, we get an inside look in to Ms. Oka Doner’s NYC loft, as well as glimpse at the costumes she is designing for Miami City Ballet’s reimagined production of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
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MCB the “Evening’s Big Discovery” at Chicago Dancing Festival

It was a drippy night at the Pritzker Pavilion on Saturday: The last performance of this year’s Chicago Dancing Festival pretty much laid to rest the notion that a free concert under the stars is necessarily a good thing. Yet many folks — including fully exposed unfortunates huddled under ponchos and umbrellas — stuck it out to the end of this two-hour show without intermission …

… also new was Miami City Ballet, which made its Chicago debut at this year’s festival. Strong and elegant, it brought Twyla Tharp’s wonderfully atypical “Sweet Fields” back to our city: Her company performed it here in 1996, shortly after its premiere.

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Miami City Ballet Launches Groundbreaking Program to Miami-Dade County Public School Children — Ballet Bus

A full scholarship, long-term investment in young people, creating a new model for national arts experiences for underserved communities

 MIAMI BEACH, FL – (August 28, 2015) – On September 8, the very first day of Miami City Ballet School’s school-year program, two buses will pick up 21 children from their elementary schools on the Biscayne Boulevard corridor, North Miami Beach, and Miami Beach and take them to their new after-school dance classes at MCB Studios. But this is just the beginning – these children will receive full scholarships at MCB School for up to 10 years per child – an extraordinary and long-term investment in the young people of Miami-Dade County.

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MCB Holding Nutcracker Auditions for Children in Naples

Aspiring Child Dancers of Naples Can Be A Part of Miami City Ballet’s Spectacular
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ – The Biggest Holiday Production In South Florida

Auditions to be held Sunday, September 13 at Artis-Naples.

MIAMI BEACH, FL – (August 3, 2015) – For many young ballerinas, the idea of performing alongside Miami City Ballet dancers in the holiday extravaganza—George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™— would seem like a distant dream. However, for the children of Naples, the opportunity comes on Sunday, September 13 at Artis-Naples, where auditions will begin at 11:30am.

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MCB Holding Nutcracker Auditions for Children in Palm Beach

Aspiring Child Dancers of Palm Beach County Can Be A Part of Miami City Ballet’s Spectacular
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ – The Biggest Holiday Production In South Florida

Auditions to be held Sunday, August 23 at Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach.

MIAMI BEACH, FL – (August 3, 2015) – For many young ballerinas, the idea of performing alongside Miami City Ballet dancers in the holiday extravaganza—George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™— would seem like a distant dream. However, for the children of Palm Beach County, the opportunity comes on Sunday, August 23, at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, where auditions will begin at 11:30am.

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MCB Announces 2015-16 U.S.Touring Engagements

Performances Scheduled at Major Festivals and Theaters in New York City, Chicago and Minneapolis

MIAMI BEACH, FL – (July 30, 2015) – Miami City Ballet is pleased to announce several national touring engagements, with performances scheduled for New York City, Chicago and Minneapolis.

“I cannot think of a better way to celebrate our 30th Anniversary than by sharing these marvelous dancers with our audiences and lifelong fans across the nation,” said MCB Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez. “We are so excited to be back on the road bringing to New York, Chicago and Minneapolis audiences the vitality, energy and diversity that MCB is known for.”

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‘Strictly Ballet’ Web Series Stars Join Miami City Ballet

Miami City Ballet has announced several additions to its roster for its 30th anniversary season. Two stars of the Teen Vogue web series “Strictly Ballet” are joining the company’s corps de ballet. Ella Titus of Clearwater and Mayumi Enokibara of Rio de Janeiro graduated from the Miami City Ballet School, where the series chronicled students’ journeys to professional dance careers.

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Two Stars From ‘Strictly Ballet’ Will Join Miami City Ballet

The Miami City Ballet announced several additions to their corps de ballet for its 30th season.

Among the announcements are Ella Titus and Mayumi Enokibara, two recent graduates of the Miami City Ballet School and stars of the Teen Vogue web series Strictly Ballet. The web series chronicled the journey of preteens and high school students who competed for limited spots in the prestigious ballet. Titus is a bit of a local, she hails from Clearwater; Enokibara’s appointment keeps to the international spirit of both ballet and Miami, she’s from Rio de Janeiro.

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MCB School Announces Third Annual Open House

MIAMI BEACH, FL – Miami City Ballet (MCB) School invites prospective students and parents to attend its third annual Open House on Saturday, August 8, 2015. This exciting event will give families the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the School and its programs: students ages 8-18 may audition for the 2015-2016 School Year Program; children ages 3-6 may participate in free sample classes; and building tours will be given throughout the day. Located at the state-of-the-art, 63,000-square-foot facility in the heart of Miami Beach’s Collins Park area, visitors can also meet the student dancers featured on Teen Vogue’s “Strictly Ballet,” a web series that follows the teens’ journeys to becoming professional dancers.

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