Digesting Culture 101
October 23, 2015
Because Miami is relatively young, awkwardly entering adolescence, it seems a bit unfair that our pimply-faced coastal town is thrown into the same mix as cities like New York and Chicago, who look chiseled in their cultural adulthood and know how to wear a tux with ease. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a place whose identity has been almost entirely built on tourism and shoulder pads. But with the onslaught of distant cultures and the opening of creative doors, Miami has truly begun to shape into a city of pure magic.
Now that we can all safely sit around the table as equals and agree that our shining light of a city is undergoing a transitional cultural deluge, how do we ensure that this portal of opportunity is readily available to every soul that calls it home? It’s not easy to remind the masses that (arguably) some of the country’s strongest cultural institutions are right in our backyard. Sure, we have the beach and boats, but who says we can’t save the partying for Sundays and spend our Saturdays absorbing the fruits of knowledge Miami has to offer as a cultural buffet? It’s all a matter of education, really. Start from the smaller diamonds, and work your way up to the whole mine. And this is where we begin:
If you want to take the time to actually start getting into classical music, our suggestion is spending a night with the Nu Deco Ensemble. They’re a genre-bending orchestra of classically trained musicians breaking down the barriers of exclusivity that have followed the music since its inception. Nu Deco is modernity personified. They take an upper echelon genre and pair it with mainstream favorites like Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem. They take the concert hall approach and shrink it down to a 150-person black box theater so you’re face to face with talented musicians that trust nothing but the music at hand. And most importantly, they welcome every form of artist no matter the genre, creating incredible collaborations with local legends like Spam Allstars and Afrobeta. It’s not your usual classical music. Catch their Concert Two embraced by the beautiful architecture of The Deering Estate on November 22nd. Blankets, wine, and good music? We’re there.
Between the scholastic rivalries, we sometimes forget just how much of a gem the University of Miami is. Not only is Frost School of Music among the top schools in the country, but the Jerry Herman Ring Theater houses some of the best theatrical productions in the city. And they’re all done by budding students whose futures are as bright as the spotlights on center stage. From Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams, from Godot to Smokey Joe’s they’ve performed it all and with seasoned calm under pressure. The production is bar-none, with sets and costumes that capture any era flawlessly. The bill choice is diverse, with a straight play to match any musical production. They make every genre of theater relatable through genuine connection and fluency in body language. It oozes with the youthful excitement that can only emanate from true passion and the anticipation of successful careers ahead. Their seasons are jam-packed so you can catch a show nearly any time of year and it all goes back to the theater!
Skip the Walk on Saturdays and spend your time at the Bakehouse Art Complex whenever possible. If you want to get a first-hand look at how some of Miami’s greatest studio artists’ work, if you want to peruse a gallery that has housed some of the world’s most influential painters, if you want to stroll around a slice of our city’s history, this is where you should be. For over 30 years, the Bakehouse has sat quietly on the edge of what is now one of Miami’s most popular neighborhoods, Wynwood. This is the epitome of visionary thinking. The once bakery silo is now a non-profit art hub that is home to over 50 international artists representing their roots from all over the world. Keep an eye out for their events here. If you’re into street art, cross the street and check out the famous Jose de Diego middle school where over a dozen street artists transformed the blank walls into an endless canvas with colossal murals for every day color.
If there’s anything Miamians know well, it’s rhythm. And where there is a beat, there is dance. Although you can catch any bit of twinkle toe action on Calle Ocho, sitting down to watch sweaty partying may not be at the level of culture we’re trying to induce. So that’s where Alma Dance Theater comes in. Four incredibly talented principal dancers, all female, all poise. Led by choreographer and founder, Marissa Alma Nick, the dance troupe is known for their site-specific pieces that are almost never the same each time they are performed. It’s all in the emotional details, and ALDT are mistresses of impeccability. They make an unparalleled connection to not only their surroundings but also the people that observe them. This Halloween season, they return with an impassioned rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” with their dance immersive experience: “Cask.” Check it all out here.
Before the monumental opening of the Frost Science Museum in downtown, Patricia and Philip Frost have dedicated much of their time in making scientific endeavors interesting for every age. Many a childhood days were spent in the confines of the original museum adjacent to Vizcaya, many a high school Friday night spent whiling away under the lasers at the planetarium while imagining myself on the Dark Side of the Moon. But while we await the center for scientific discovery next summer, get your nerd fix at the captivating Science Art Cinema series that takes place once a month around the city. Tonight, their second installment dives deep into the human brain and behavior under fear with Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds Losin from the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology. Then, catch a showing of 1966 film, Queen of Blood followed by a set by DJ Le Spam. Science + entertainment is an educational goldmine.
Once you’ve done your studies, we’ll revisit the subject of Digesting Culture in our next course. But for now, get those brainwaves moving!