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Miami festival features dancers from all over the world

Miami festival features dancers from all over the world

Dancers from across the world will perform on South Florida stages throughout the week for the XXI International Ballet Festival of Miami.

Hailing from countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Japan, Italy and Spain, these dancers will perform between Sept. 3 and 11 in five shows in Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Miami and, for the first time, Miramar. Dancers will perform contemporary, classical and neoclassical ballet.

Director Pedro Pablo Peña, originally from Cuba, founded the festival in 1995 because he thought Miami was missing out on cultural events.

"How it is possible that a city like Miami, that dedicates so much to tourism, doesn't put more emphasis in culture?" says Peña, who lives in Miami. "Originally when I talked about the festival it sounded crazy. 'A ballet festival in Miami? Where people go to the beach all the time?'"

More than 20 years later, the festival is going strong, gathering 18 prominent dance and ballet companies. Beside dance shows, the festival also features film screenings, art exhibits, workshops and book presentations.

"I believe this shows the need that city had for cultural activities like this," Peña says. "Because there's a lot of diversity here, and people are used to see ballet and opera in their countries."

PROGRAM I - Contemporary

Saturday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. Admissions cost $30-$35. Call 305-674-1040.

The first live show of the festival will feature contemporary dance performances by companies from Colombia, Chile and Venezuela. Ballet Folklorico de Antioquia will bring 24 dancers and musicians to the stage. Dramo, from Venezuela, will present a fusion of dance and opera show based on the Italian opera "La Traviata." Ballet Nacional Chileno will also perform.

PROGRAM II and PROGRAM III - International Young Medalists Performance

Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., at Lehman Theater Miami Dade College North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Ave., Miami. The earlier performance is open for Miami Dade College students only and free. Admissions for the night performance cost $20. Call 786-747-1877.

These two performances will feature young dancers who have won medals in the Youth America Grand Prix, an annual international student ballet competition based in New York. About 20 students, between 11 and 16 from the U.S. and across the world, will perform their best routines.

PROGRAM IV - Etoiles Classical Grand Gala Performance

Saturday, Sept 10, at 8 p.m. at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W Flagler St., Miami. Admissions cost $38-$65. Call 305-547-5414.

Dancers from 12 ballet companies from across the world will perform classical routines from some of the most beloved ballets in the world, such as the "Swan Lake," "Don Quixote," "Coppelia" and "Le Corsaire." Ballet de Santiago, Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theater and Peña's own Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami are some of the companies performing.

During this gala, the festival will present its annual "A Life for Dance" lifetime achievement award to Carlos Gacio, ex-principal dancer of Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

PROGRAM V - Festival Closing Gala of the Stars Performance

Sunday, Sept. 11, at 5 p.m. at the Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Place, Miramar. Admissions cost $35-$55. Call 954-602-4500.

All 12 companies from Program IV return to the stage for this closing night to perform different acts. Principal dancers will perform routines from classical ballets, such "Diana and Acteon" and "The Nutcracker," and neoclassical pieces such as "Dans Le Même Souffle" and "Black Stone."

Patricia Aulestia, president of the Mexican Federation of Dance Professionals, will receive the festival's award for "Criticism and Culture of Ballet."

To buy tickets online or find more information about the festival go to InternationalBalletFestival.org.

bduarte@sunsentinel.com

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