FLA-FRA Festival Brings Francophone Creativity to Miami Stages
Set aside for a moment any preconceived notions you may have about the French arts and culture. Toss out the idea of the beret with a striped shirt and a baguette stuck underneath an arm. So much more happens creatively in France and the French diaspora, but it seldom reaches South Florida.
Photo by Kasper T Myriam Gourfink dances.
This year, that began to change thanks to Tigertail Productions' Florida-France Festival, or FLA-FRA, which began April 1 and closes this weekend with one-of-a-kind performances by leading French choreographer Myriam Gourfink and fellow countryman and renowned dancer Cédric Andrieux.
These concerts cap the month-long celebration of dance, music, film, video and performances, with talent from both Florida and France, which make up FLA-FRA, the brainchild of Tigertail founder and executive director Mary Luft.
"Festivals are changing in the United States. It's not just what you have in a concert hall. I was very interested in engaging people from this community, and that's been great fun. All kinds of people have responded," says Luft.
"This is a two-year project, and next year it has more of a focus on the diaspora," she explains -- she's seeking artists from Cote d'Ivoire, Algeria and Tunisia.
And the reason she chose France?
"Very little new work from France gets to Miami," she says. "There's a huge [French] festival in New York City, but new work in dance doesn't get here. Expats are usually extremely conservative. I found that with Brazil as well. They are generally more business-oriented."
Still, a large contingent of French-speaking people makes South Florida home.
"There's a huge French diaspora here, from the Caribbean, from Canada, and so I was interested in focusing on significant French artists to bring in new ideas," Luft says.
One such artist is dancer Cédric Andrieux, who first visited the area in 2007 with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and still has vivid memories of that visit.
"The idea to create a festival that allows different cultures to meet, especially in the experimental and contemporary art forms, seems to me extremely rich in itself," Andrieux writes in an e-mail from a dressing room in a theater near Lille, France.
"It allows the audience to discover different points of view on sometimes similar issues, which is always a fascinating experience," he continues. "What do we share, how do we deal with our differences, which in the long run helps us develop new ways to be together, and also new ways to interact with our surroundings."