Downtown Miami

Cultural Compass

Downtown’s cultural scene is increasingly rich. I’m not talking about the PAMMs and Arsht Centers, which are second to none, but smaller productions, little gems crafted by individuals, community organizations, or the neighboring college. Downtown NEWS seeks to highlight events that, size aside, do help forge a local identity.

Performance Art: Dov & Blasting Pixels

One performance explores coming of age, the other, the concept of memory.


A solo physical theater work directed by Pioneer Winter for Izzi LieberPerson, who will be performing for the first time. Dov explores Izzi’s transition from a twelve to thirteen-year-old, using dance, monologue, and his prodigious basketball skills as soundscore. Through the eyes of a boy who is becoming, members of the audience confront their own childhood and the question of what it means to become.

Photo courtesy of MDC Live Arts Lab.

Blasting Pixels

Blending multi-channel projections of real-time feed and video loops with dance-performance and live music, Claudio Marcotulli’s Blasting Pixels attempts to explore the concept of memory tied to a personal timeline. Extracted from a 20-year old collection of MiniDV tapes, digitalized memories interact w/existential narratives in a theatrical setting. Collaborators include composer Jose Luis de la Paz, dancers Roana Barba and Liony Garcia, and actor Jose Manual Dominguez.

Thursday and Friday, Feb 7 and 8, at 8 pm. MDC Live Arts Lab, Wolfson campus, 300 NE 2nd Ave Miami Fl. Tickets: $10.

Science and Technology: Strange Matter

Discover the secrets of everyday stuff in the Strange Matter exhibition at the Frost Museum of Science. February through October 2019. Located on floors two and three of the museum’s West Wing, Strange Matter is a dynamic blend of physics, chemistry and engineering. The exhibition uses science to explore the bizarre world of modern materials and provides a glimpse into where the future of these materials might take us.

Photo Courtesy of FRost SCience Museum.

Visitors can interact with over a dozen hands-on activities to investigate the very structure of these materials and discover what gives them their intriguing and remarkable properties. The exhibition captures advanced materials used in high-tech fields such as the space program and cardiac surgery and reveals them in more common places, from the shoes that you wear and dishes to bikes and skateboards.

Highlights of the Strange Matter exhibition

Smash the Glass: Discover the amazing properties of heat-tempered glass when they crank up a bowling ball and let it fly. Will it take ten seconds, ten minutes, ten hours, or ten days of repeated impact before the glass will shatter?

Amazing Magnetic Liquids: Ferrofluids are liquids that respond to magnets. In this area of Strange Matter, guests use magnets to manipulate pools of ferrofluids, making them jump and dance.

Amorphous Metals: The unusual structure of amorphous metals makes them incredibly hard. Here, visitors “test” different metals by dropping ball bearings on five different materials simultaneously.

Crystals: See one of the world’s largest crystals, learn where crystals are present in everyday objects, and watch the beautiful growth of a crystal’s intricate patterns.

Foam: This strange material is present in all sorts of everyday objects. Watch as a foam tower climbs its way toward the ceiling, then compare it to aerogel, the lightest material ever made.

Memory Metals: Use a robotic arm to bend and twist a Nitinol metal ribbon, a startling example of a metal with a “memory,” then see it return to its original shape with the addition of a little bit of hot air.

Demo Theater: Frost Science ambassadors will do daily live “Spark of Science” demonstrations and invite guests to join in a lab experiment to discover the ways in which we’re all materials scientists.

Strange Matter is produced by the Ontario Science Centre and presented by the Materials Research Society.

February through October 2019. Frost Science Museum. 111 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33132. Admission is included in all museum admission tickets. Additional information on the exhibition can be found at

Arts + Science Salon: Chocolate & Sex: Myths and Science

Photo, Niels Johansen for Downtown NEWS.

A conversation on the effect chocolate has on humanity. Different perspectives, science, chocolate making, and writing. The salon features:

Dr. Nubia Santos, professor of Psychology at MDC, who will focus on the scientific facts behind the link between chocolate and what the great Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel called the obscure object of desire. Has science proven chocolate’s aphrodisiacal properties? Dr. Santos, responds: “Chocolate contains the neurotransmitters serotonin and anandamide which contribute to feelings of happiness and excitement during sex.”

Brielle Fratellone, the chocolate-maker, is the Executive Pastry Chef at the Fontainebleau. A former sculptor, she has invented some of the most memorable receipts for high-end chocolates. “Is chocolate-making art or science?” she is asked. “Both,” she smiles. Brielle will also lead a tasting of chocolates, featuring original cacao from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador.

Martha Otis teaches literature at the University of Miami. She is a poet, novelist, and essayist who explores the mythological powers of chocolate in a narrative tour de force along the somnolent realm of magical realism. “The brain-burning changed other perceptions, too stretched and shrank the visible present, picked it and dried it and displayed it before us everywhere in the living and the mummified color os the isthmus: the blood-and-shit tones of the famous chocolate…”

Three ladies of substance in conversation with Raul Guerrero, Director of the Downtown Arts + Science Salon.

Music by the young local guitarist Juan Camilo Pelaez, an alumnus of the downtown New World School of the Arts. Also, chocolate tastings and delicious happy hour-priced chocolate martinis.

February 12, 6:30–9:00 pm. The Café at Books & Books, the Arsht Center. 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33132. For more information and tickets:

Opera in Bayfront Park

For the third edition of Opera in Bayfront Park, February 28, Magic City Opera has in store a magnificent show!

Detail from an image courtesy of Magic City Opera.

Soprano Rebekah Diaz-Fandrei has recently taken over the leadership of Magic City Opera. Ms. Diaz-Fandrei studied with Mimi Lerner at Carnegie-Mellon University and Maitland Peters at the Manhattan School of Music. Her resume includes performances of L’Italiana in Algeri, The Rape of Lucretia, Hansel ünd Gretel, West Side Story, and South Pacific. Ms. Diaz Fandrei has also been an educator, both introducing Opera to children and a college professor.

Rebekah Diaz-Fandrei was also selected as one of only three women for a national, elite mentorship program with Opera America


The third edition of Opera in Bayfront Park will feature Opera, Broadway favorites, and Zarzuela.

An inquisitive gentleman asked: Zarzuela, is that a succulent Spanish dish? No, zarzuela is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes. The sung part incorporates operatic and popular song, as well as dance.

The gentleman’s confusion might have come from Zarzuela’s etymology. Some believe the word derives from a Royal hunting lodge, the Palacio de la Zarzuela near Madrid. Allegedly, this type of entertainment was first presented to the court. The palace was named after “La Zarzuela” because of the profusion of brambles that grew there, and so the festivities held within the walls became known as “Zarzuelas”. And one might be forgiven for inferring that along with the music, recitation and dance some of the game was served.

The Show

“We are coming up on our third annual Opera in the Park, which is quite exciting. I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to keep serving the downtown public, and we hope to have an even bigger showing this year,” said Rebecca Diaz. “Our incredible cast will perform favorites that our audiences have come to love. It will feature pieces from Carmen, The Barber of Seville, South Pacific, The Phantom of the Opera, and more.”

So, make sure you gather friends and family for great performances under the stars. It’s a downtown tradition. It’s a neighborhood thing. Presented by the Downtown Neighbors Alliance and sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority.

February 28, 6:30 PM. at the Tina Hills Pavilion in Bayfront Park, Downtown Miami. More Information:

Master Class with Chucho Valdés at Le Chat Noir

Chucho Valdez, pianist, composer and arranger, is one of the most influential figures in modern Afro-Cuban jazz. Winner of multiple awards, including six Grammys.

Photo by Carol Friedman.

Born in a family of musicians, Chucho Valdés has distilled elements of the Afro-Cuban music tradition, jazz, classical music, rock and more, into a distinct personal style. His first teacher was his father, the great pianist, composer and bandleader Bebo Valdés. By the age of three, Chucho was already playing the melodies he heard on the radio, using both hands and in any key. He began taking piano lessons, theory and solfege at the age of five and continued his formal musical education at the Conservatorio Municipal de la Habana, graduating at 14. A year later, he formed his first jazz trio and in 1959. Then he joined the orchestra Sabor de Cuba, directed by his father. Sabor de Cuba is considered one of the great orchestras in modern Cuban music history.

But Chucho Valdez is perhaps best known as the founder of another landmark ensemble in Cuban music: Irakere (1973–2005). Irakere was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie, who was visiting Havana on a jazz cruise, in 1977. The following year, producer Bruce Lundvall, president of CBS, went to Cuba on Dizzy´s advice, heard the band live and signed it on the spot. The original band featured future global jazz stars such as Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. Over its rich and long life, Irakere became a rolling university of Afro-Cuban music.

A high school student asked: what’s the difference between a regular class and a master class? First, the master class is taught by a master in the discipline, and it’s a special event. Often, it is attended by very talented students. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a master class is better than a regular class. One thing is for sure in this case, attendees will have in Chucho Valdez one of the musicians in the world.

The Master Class, in Spanish, takes place at Miami’s premier jazz club Le Chat Noire. Presented by Paxy’s. The Musicians Talk Series kicks off PAXy’s expanded season.

Thursday, March 7, 6:30 pm. 2 South Miami Avenue. Miami, FL 33130. Free. For more information and to RSVP:

The Tempest

Shakespear for Children in the Park, featuring the community-based theater company, Shakespeare & Friends USA.

Illustration courtesy of Shakespeare & Friends USA.

Vicente Albarracín and Heli Berti, director and producer, agreed that the Tina Hills Pavilion at Bayfront Park was the perfect stage, with beautiful Biscayne Bay for a backdrop. “It is the Tempest, after all,” said vAlbarracín.

“The idea is to encourage reading in children from an early age, also logical thinking. Working with The Tempest, for example, early elementary students will explore the weather and the power of the wind. Older students can collaborate on solutions to move a group of stranded people from an island using math and science instead of magic,” said the producer.

Every Version is Unique

Shakespeare & Friends USA’ adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic has the duke and his daughter banished to an enchanted island. Years later, those responsible for his exile arrive at that same island. Thanks to the tricks, cunning and help of the fantastic beings that inhabit the island, the protagonists of the story are able to overcome their conflicts and reconcile their feelings. Justice and love triumph for the common good.

The producer, Heli Berti, further explains: “In our version, music and magical elements guide the protagonists along a path of reconciliation and justice. Our humorous version stars a clown and other magical characters, which is key to connect the children with this classic. The fantastic characters present in the original text have been a fundamental element in the selection of this piece as it appeals to children’s imagination. The simplicity of Shakespeare’s plotline also makes it more accessible to children. The original work’s message of brotherhood and justice have not been compromised either.”

The five-act structure of the Elizabethan Theater has been maintained and the presence of the character of Prospero as guide and narrator of the story has been maintained to strengthen his bond with the spectators.

The Educational Edge

Joy Prevor, Downtown Neighbors Alliance’s education tzarina, estimates that the Greater Downtown Miami accounts for over ten thousand children. “And we can all agree, as the Miami Herald reports, no issue is more important for Florida’s future than education.”

Language arts, problem-solving, mathematics, compassion, negotiating skills, these are the lessons children learn without even realizing it.

“Maybe this will mark the beginning of a spring tradition in Miami: Shakespeare in the Park for Children.”

Presented by the Downtown Neighbors Alliance and DASS. Sponsored by Bayside Market. Bring a picking bag or enjoy the delicious offering of various Food Trucks.

March 30, 3–6 pm. Free. The Tina Hills Pavilion at Bayfront Park, downtown Miami. For more information:



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Downtown NEWS

Downtown NEWS

A Multimedia publication exclusively focused on Downtown Miami. Staff Page.