The 2015-16 arts season is perhaps the biggest yet to stir things up in the 954. As the cultural scene grows each month with the increasingly popular FAT Village Artwalk and the emerging, contemporary arts explosion that is Art Fallout (led by the Girls' Club and held annually in October), Broward denizens have plenty of artsy happenings to take in, chew up, gawk at, and explore.
What is extraordinary this season, however, is the advent of the county's 100th birthday. Come the weekend of October 2 to 4, Duende, a three-day centennial celebration hosted by the Broward Cultural Division and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with the Community Foundation of Broward, will take over the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, Hollywood ArtsPark, and various sites for an unprecedented bash showcasing the arts, dance, live music, craziness, and diverse humans of Broward County.
The name Duende, a term originating from Spain, is described as an art that embraces a quality of passion and inspiration, a heightened state of emotion, expression, and authenticity.
The event concept came to our backyard when artistic collective the Creative Minds — Eddy Edwards, Jim Hammond, Pablo Malco, Myrna Meeroff, and Loren Oliveira — got together and brainstormed how to put on the party of the century, but all it needed was a name.
Puppeteer Jim Hammond, of Florida Day of the Dead and the Puppet Network, overheard Anthony Bourdain chatting with a flamenco dancer in Spain on his show Parts Unknown, and the word "duende" came up. "It struck me," Hammond recalls. "So I paused the show and replayed that scene over and over."
The puppetmaster took the word and handed it over to the Creative Minds, who ran with it.
"Duende, for me, is the purest form of art," he says. "It's when the artist listens to art and the art listens to the artist."
The Creative Minds team members contributed their own portion of the three-day program. For instance, Edwards, founder and producer of the annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, wants to showcase the influence of the local ethnic community through the arts, music, and live performance.
"I don't like to do the ordinary," he says. He's bringing a series of musicians and performers to the stage on Saturday night, people like Latin musician Tito Puente Jr., son of the famous Tito Puente. The smooth Puente Junior has appeared on NBC's two-hour special The Apollo at 70: A Hot Night in Harlem and on ABC's One Life to Live.
Another Creative Mind, Malco, a dancer, choreographer, and producer of Pfuzion Dance Theatre, has toured the world with some of the hottest dancers and recording artists, including Jason Derulo, Paula Abdul, and Will Smith, and is bringing a street-dance performance to the block of Second Street and Second Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Malco is big on dance fusion, mashing up movements like ballet and contemporary dancers and incorporating unlikely artistic styles — urban music with aerialists — in unexpected ways.
"In the shows I've produced, we've done hip-hop to Mozart and popped and break-danced to Beethoven," he says. "I can't go onstage without crossing genres. I can hear country music, and instead of line-dancing, I would break-dance to it."
Attendees can get in on the action too on Friday night by downloading Duende's app, Fruio, from the Apple app store. This user-generated video-editing app enables revelers to post their moments live and hashtag it up amid libations. Steps to a choreographed dance, in flash-mob style, will be posted prior to the kickoff. Fruio will also list the breakdown of the weekend's many festivities.
On Saturday, a Broadway-style performance directed by Neil Goldberg will take place at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts featuring as headliners Broadway star Linda Eder and musician Jon Secada, along with a crew of more than 100 local musicians, dancers, poets, and athletes.
Anyone seeking to catch local bands can head north on Sunday for the AMP Festival at "The AMP," formerly known as the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. Two stages will feature roughly ten original acts that were juried into the show.
Additional performances will include Sammy Figueroa, Otis Cadillac, the Jason Taylor Foundation's Bluapple Poetry Network, and Body and Soul Dance Theatre.
And urban-pop visual artist Luis Berros will rival with street artist Ruben Ubiera and others in ARTwar on Sunday, a 45-minute live-painting competition not to be missed. "I'm calling it a creative clash, as there will be a flurry of brush strokes and paint," says Byron Swart, artistic director and curator of Creative City Collaborative, the organizer behind the AMP Festival.
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"It was Oscar Wilde that said, 'Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has ever seen,'?" says Swart. "Pompano Beach Arts is truly amplifying the vibrancy of the arts community by taking this intense mode of individualism prevalent throughout Broward County and placing it into one arena where new partnerships are forged and the expansion of ideas is encouraged. It is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary arts event founded on the belief that art is directly connected to the individuals who produce it and the communities that arise because of it."
Schedule at a glance:
Friday Night Grand Opening Takeover: Friday, October 2, block party along SW Second Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Free.
Party of the Century: Performers include Brazilian Voices, Fabio Barros Dancers, Flow Hip Hop Dancers, Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus, Fushu Daiko, and George Tandy Jr. Saturday, October 3, block party along SW Second Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale, 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. Free.
The Big One Hundred! Fun, Free, and Fabulous: Saturday, October 3, at Esplanade Park/Amaturo Theater, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We..." The Passion & Rhythm of the People: Saturday, October 3, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 8 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $160 via browardcenter.org.
AMP Festival: Sunday, October 4, at Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, 3 to 10 p.m. Free.
October 2 to 4 at various locations. For the complete schedule, visit broward100.org, or download the Fruio app