Articles by Fernando González

  • Article

    Dancing in the desert: YoungArts Salon screening spotlights the social power of art

    April 14, 2015 by Fernando González

    The crowd at the YoungArts Salon. Getty Images/Aaron Davidson.

    It’s hard to imagine listening to “Louie Louie” as a subversive activity or practicing Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Rudolf Nureyev’s steps as a crime. But in 2009, under a theocratic government of the Islamic Republic of Iran that faced a critical election, these were punishable offenses. These were not mere paper laws. The Basij, a paramilitary force, was at the ready to administer the punishment — and punish it did with terrifying efficiency.

    Such is the setting of “Desert Dancer,” a film based on the true story of Afshin Ghaffarian, a young, self-taught dancer who, passionate about the art form, organized an underground dance group in Tehran. The film opens nationally Friday, April 17.

  • Article

    Making poetry from the pain of war

    April 15, 2015 by Fernando González

    Making poetry from the pain of war

    Teo Castellanos, far right, leads a spoken word workshop for veterans. Photo by Edward Davis/MDC Live Arts. As readers, listeners, viewers or creators, we often turn to art to transmute pain into beauty, to find clarity in our darkness, to explain ourselves. Sometimes a work of art might start with a simple need.  For a veteran, it might be an answer to a silent question: how do you tell your neighbor what it was like to live with unspeakable violence, fear and death, in an unknowable place, half way around the world?  Or, how do you tell it to yourself?

    Those questions are at the heart of Live Arts Veterans’ Lab Showcase: “Conscience Under Fire,” a spoken word performance presented by MDC Live Arts at the Betsy Hotel, Miami Beach, on April 19, as part of the O, Miami Poetry Festival.

    Loosely structured in three parts — childhood, service and post-service life — the event is the culmination of The Live Arts Veterans’ Lab, a creative writing and storytelling workshop led by Knight Challenge winner, actor, writer and director Teo Castellanos. The event is part of an MDC Live Arts’  challenge-winning initiative focused on veterans.

  • Article

    Una nueva mezcla para músicos y empresarios en Miami

    March 26, 2014 by Fernando González

    Una nueva mezcla para músicos y empresarios en Miami

    miamimusicsummit

    Photo credit: Luis Olazabal.

    El primer MIA Music Summit, llevado a cabo en el New World Center en Miami Beach este lunes, combinó todo lo que se puede esperar de un evento que involucra música, tecnología y espíritu empresario -- y más.

    RELATED LINS

    "

    "Music and tech: A new beat for Miami" on KnightBlog.org

    "A new mix for Miami’s musicians and entrepreneurs" on KnightBlog.org

    Fue inspirador, pero apoyado en cifras y estrategias definidas.  En él se celebró la música y la chispa creadora, pero también la importancia de algoritmos y Big Data.

    Fue un encuentro que examinó desde nuevos ángulos experiencias pasadas y nuevas oportunidades en un amplio abanico de temas, desde el tema de marcas y los sellos de grabación a modos alternativos de financiación de proyectos.

    El propósito del encuentro, el cual fue patrocinado por  Knight Foundation, Choose Digital, .CO, SESAC Latina y Mobile Roadie, era establecer puentes entre las culturas del mundo de la música, la tecnología y los startups, como había dicho Matt Haggman, el director de programa de Miami de Knight, “contribuir a hacer de Miami un lugar donde se construyen ideas.”

    Reflejando ese objetivo, el evento no sólo tuvo charlas, sino también un componente muy práctico, de ‘manos a la obra’. El encuentro comenzó en realidad el sábado a la mañana en lo que fue el primer “hackathon” musical de Miami, celebrado en The LAB Miami en Wynwood. Alrededor de 50 programadores, diseñadores y músicos, la mayoría trabajando en equipos, aceptaron el desafío de crear nuevos productos que quizás podrían ser las semillas de nuevas compañías.

    El domingo, un jurado evaluó 13 nuevos proyectos que iban desde aplicaciones para encontrar gente con quien tocar o coordinar la música que el usuario escucha con lo que está leyendo a un programa que ajusta la música de acuerdo al lugar geográfico en el que el usuario está en determinado momento. Los cinco proyectos elegidos fueron presentados el lunes a la sala del Summit en pleno y ante un nuevo jurado.

  • Article

    In the key of Miami: Summit bridges startup and music worlds

    March 11, 2014 by Fernando González

    In the key of Miami: Summit bridges startup and music worlds

    miamimusic

    Photo credit: Flickr user Ines Hegedus-Garcia.

    As much an idea as a city, Miami has long established itself as a place of opportunity and reinvention. Now the MIA Music Summit wants to expand on Miami’s growing reputation as a place for innovative startups.

    The weekend-long event, which concludes with a full day of activities at the New World Center in Miami Beach on March 24, will bring together music, technology and entrepreneurship.

    RELATED LINK

    "En clave de Miami: el Summit acerca los mundos de la música y la innovación empresarialon KnightBlog.org

    The Summit is sponsored by Knight Foundation, Senzari, Choose Digital, .CO, SESAC Latina and Mobile Roadie.

    “What we’re trying to create with this event is a collision between this very vibrant technology community that is developing here and the traditional music sector we already have in this city,” says Demian Bellumio, COO of Senzari, a digital music company, and also a member of the MIA Collective, a group created for investing in, and building, companies focused in the confluence of technology, art and media in Miami. “If we manage to bridge these two worlds, I believe Miami has an opportunity to leapfrog into the future of music: the digital space.”

    Matt Haggman, Knight’s Miami program director, elaborates on how the event fits within the foundation’s overall mission.

  • Article

    En clave de Miami: el Summit acerca los mundos de la música y la innovación empresarial.

    March 11, 2014 by Fernando González

    En clave de Miami: el Summit acerca los mundos de la música y la innovación empresarial.

    miamimusic

    Photo credit: Flickr user Ines Hegedus-Garcia.

    Miami es una ciudad y una idea, un lugar de oportunidades y reinvención. Ahora, el MIA Music Summit quiere alimentar la creciente reputación de Miami como el lugar de emprendimientos innovadores.

    Este evento, que transcurrirá a lo largo de un fin de semana (marzo 22 al 24), concluirá con un día de actividades que unirá música, tecnología y espíritu empresario en el New World Center en Miami Beach el lunes 24 de marzo. El Summit es patrocinado por Knight Foundation, Senzari, Choose Digital, .CO, SESAC Latina y Mobile Roadie.

    RELATED LINK

    "In the key of Miami: Summit bridges startup and music worlds" on KnightBlog.org

    “Lo que estamos tratando de crear con este evento es una colisión entre una vibrante comunidad  tecnológica en desarrollo y un sector tradicional de música que tenemos en la ciudad”, dice Demian Bellumio, COO, o Gerente de Operaciones, of Senzari, una compañía digital de música, y también miembro de MIA Collective, un grupo creado para crear e invertir en empresas dedicadas a la confluencia de tecnología, arte y medios de comunicación en Miami. “Si gestionamos bien como conectar estos dos mundos [de tecnología y música], creo que Miami tiene la posibilidad de dar un salto adelante en el futuro de la música: el espacio digital”.

     

    Matt Haggman, el director de programas de Miami de Knight Foundation, sitúa el evento en el contexto de la misión de la fundación.

    Hace aproximadamente 18 meses, pensando en lo que podría ser una próxima iniciativa para la comunidad en Miami,  Knight comenzó a enfocarse  en “como conectar, apoyar y, eventualmente, empujar esta comunidad emergente de empresarios, nuevas compañías y gente de toda clase creativa y que hace cosas”, dice Haggman. El enfoque fue “ampliar nuestra visión de la comunidad creativa de Miami para incluir no sólo artistas, pero empresarios, con el objetivo de hacer de Miami un lugar donde se construyen ideas. Y la apuesta es que, si hacemos esto bien, para la comunidad habrá beneficios importantes tales como el de la retención de talento”.

    “Partimos de la premisa de que Miami ya tiene todas las herramientas para ser un centro empresarial de gran impacto, importante e innovador”, explica Haggman. Knight quiere “ayudar a construir el ecosistema donde los empresarios puedan florecer”.  

    El MIA Music Summit comenzará el sábado 22 de marzo con el que será el primer  “hackathon” musical en Miami. La actividad se llevará a cabo en The LAB Miami, un espacio de 10,000-pies cuadrados en un depósito reconvertido en Wynwood, el distrito de las artes de Miami. Este espacio, creado con la ayuda de Knight Foundation, se ha transformado en un centro de actividad para empresarios de la tecnología, las artes y la cultura.

  • Article

    Nu Deco Ensemble and the new (classical) sounds of Miami

    September 25, 2015 by Fernando González

    Nu Deco Ensemble and the new (classical) sounds of Miami

    Nu Deco Ensemble Debut Concert Highlights via YouTube

    The attention received and the impact achieved, in such short time, by the Nu Deco Ensemble, a Miami-based collective billed as a 21st century chamber orchestra, suggests not only great musical quality but smart thinking and auspicious timing.

    The group’s debut on April 4 at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse in Wynwood was as much a concert as a declaration of principles. It included contemporary chamber music by young composers such as Adam SchoenbergChris RogersonPaul Dooley and Andy Akiho, an orchestral reimagining of music by the French electro-pop-dance duo Daft Punk and a collaboration with local electro-pop duo Afrobeta.

    This was followed, just days later by a collaboration with Chicago-based company Manual Cinema at the O, Miami Poetry Festival and, in June, a performance at the Bang on a Can Marathon as part of an annual fundraiser for Miami Light Project.

  • Article

    From prisoner to poet: Jimmy Santiago Baca appears at O, Miami

    April 25, 2014 by Fernando González

    “I am Offering This Poem” via YouTube

    Those who argue for the transformative power of the written word will be hard pressed to find a more potent, or moving, argument than the life of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca.

    RELATED LINK

    "De prisionero a poeta: Jimmy Santiago Baca lee en O, Miami" by Fernando González on KnightBlog.org

    His childhood story suggests a Dickensian tale set in the American Southwest.

    Baca was born in rural New Mexico of parents of Apache and Mexican descent. The family—his mother, father, brother and a sister—all lived in a two-room shack. When he was 2 years old, he was abandoned and ended up living with one of his grandmothers. But she was unable to care for him, and the authorities eventually placed him in an orphanage. He ran away when he was 11 years old, and for the next few years, he lived by the rules of the street.  

    In an interview in Las Americas Journal he recalled that “by the time I was sixteen I had been in the county jail maybe about twenty times for assault and battery with the police.” By 18, he was in prison serving five to 10 years in a maximum-security prison in Arizona for drug possession with the intent to distribute. He ended up serving six and a half years in prison, three of them in isolation, the institutional response to his having expressed a desire to learn to read and write and get his GED.

    But Baca, 62, who will be reading at Books & Books April 27 as part of the O, Miami poetry festival, was now focused on walking away from what seemed a prearranged path.

  • Article

    De prisionero a poeta: Jimmy Santiago Baca lee en O, Miami

    April 25, 2014 by Fernando González

    “I am Offering This Poem” via YouTube

    Va a ser difícil  que los que defienden el poder transformador de la palabra escrita encuentren un argumento más potente, o conmovedor,  que la historia de vida del poeta Jimmy Santiago Baca.

    RELATED LINK

    "From prisoner to poet: Jimmy Santiago Baca appears at O, Miami" by Fernando González on KnightBlog.org

    Su niñez sugiere un cuento de Dickens ambientado en el Suroeste Americano.

    Baca nació en el campo, en New México. Sus padres eran de descendencia Apache y Mexicana. La familia, la cual incluía padre, madre un hermano y una hermana, vivían todos en una chabola de dos cuartos. A los dos años, sus padres lo abandonaron y tuvo que irse a vivir con una de sus abuelas. Pero ella no podía cuidarlo y las autoridades eventualmente se lo llevaron y lo pusieron en un orfanatorio. De allí escapó cuando tenía 11 años y por los próximos años vivió en la calle.

    En una entrevista con Las Americas Journal, Baca, 62, contó que “para cuando cumplí 16 años ya había estado en la cárcel del condado por agresión y asalto a la policía alrededor de 20 veces”. A los 18, estaba encarcelado sirviendo una condena de cinco a 10 años en una prisión de máxima seguridad en Arizona por posesión de droga con la intención de distribuir. Terminó cumpliendo seis años y medio de su condena, tres de ellos en confinamiento solitario, la respuesta institucional a su pedido de aprender a leer y escribir y tomar su examen de GED.

    Pero para entonces Baca, quien estará leyendo en Books & Books el domingo 27 de abril como parte del programa del festival de poesía O, Miami,  ya estaba decidido a cambiar el rumbo en lo que hasta entonces parecía un camino ya pre ordenado.

  • Article

    Ideas, passion, persistence and the right mix for startup success

    July 11, 2014 by Fernando González

    Ideas, passion, persistence and the right mix for startup success

    Music producer Jermaine Dupri spoke at Tech Cocktail in Miami. Photos by Ezequiel Williams.

    The book launch of “Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing and Celebrating Startup Success,” by Frank Gruber, the founder and CEO of Tech Cocktail, brought together entrepreneurs, on stage and in the audience, and featured sound advice, a llama and cocktails. What else do you need for your next successful startup?

    As it turns out, quite a bit more — which is the subject of “Startup Mixology.”

    “The reason to do this book was that it took me 10 years to start my company and run it myself,” explained Gruber in a post-panel interview at The Stage in Miami. “It was a scary, long process to figure out on my own and I made a lot of mistakes. So I wanted to create the book that was not out there when I was trying to do this and something that would be easy for people to follow. There are a lot of books out that talk about a lot of the different components but I wanted to create a comprehensive guide that only would tell you how to do it, but [it would tell you] also the harsh realities of it too. Because it’s hard.”

  • Article

    Cuba empresaria: una emprendedora a la vez

    August 11, 2014 by Fernando González

    Cuba empresaria: una emprendedora a la vez

    Foto: Empresaria Yamina Vicente, Decorazón (2013). Credito: Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) en Flickr.

    Si un camino de mil millas comienza con un paso, quizás una apertura económica y social en Cuba se puede afianzar con el éxito de la micro-empresa de jabones de Sandra Aldama o la Pizzera Nella de Marianela Pérez.

    Ellas — junto con Niuris Higueras, propietaria del restaurante Atelier; Yamina Vicente, dueña de Decorazón, un negocio de organizar eventos, y Deciré Verdecia, dueña del salón de belleza y gimnasio  Decy Spa y Peluquería, todos negocios ubicados en o alrededor de La Haba — son parte de una generación de emprendedores cuentapropistas, un incipiente sector de la economía cubana que comenzó a emerger en el 2008, luego de que el gobierno decidiera permitir empresas particulares.

    Las cinco mujeres de negocios fueron parte de “StartUp Cuba?,” (¿Cuba Nueva Empresaria?) una conversación en el Miami Dade College el viernes en la mañana. El evento fue co-patrocinado por el Idea Center y el Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives, (Centro para Iniciativas en Latinoamérica y el Caribe) parte del Miami Dade College, con la asistencia del Cuba Study Group (Grupo de Estudio de Cuba).

  • Article

    Hispanicize conference underscores importance of Latino influence in journalism, music, film and more

    April 13, 2016 by Fernando González

    Creators Party presented by Carnival: Opening Night Party of Hispanicize. Photos courtesy of Hispanicize.

    Home of a Hispanic population estimated at 55 million people, the United States is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. The impact of the social, political, cultural and economic life of Hispanics in the United States has been profound — and it’s only growing.

    According to the just released Geoscape’s 2016 American Marketscape DataStream report, there will be about 68 million Hispanics in the United States by 2021; the population is growing at an average of 1.6 million Hispanics each year for the next five years. Such was the context for Hispanicize 2016, an annual event billed as the largest gathering of Latino professionals in marketing, social media, digital content creation, journalism, music and film, which took place at the InterContinental Miami hotel April 4-8.

    The seventh annual edition of Hispanicize featured a dizzying array of panels, new product presentations and music performances. As part of the event, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the largest organization of Latino journalists, held its first annual Spanish-language conference, which was supported by Knight Foundation. Knight also hosted the journalists’ association for its spring board of directors meeting last Friday. 

  • Article

    An evangelist for entrepreneurship: With events like SIME MIA, Demian Bellumio is promoting Miami’s future

    October 17, 2014 by Fernando González

    Demian Bellumio, chief operating officer for Senzari, a Big Data content recommendation company based in Miami, seems in motion even while calmly answering questions seated at a desk in the company’s conference room. It’s late summer and part of this, no doubt, is because today he’s waiting for a call from a potential sponsor for this year’s SIME MIA, a two-day conference that merges entrepreneurship, media technology and the arts.

    Senzari COO Demian Bellumio by Carolina Wilson on Flickr.

    Born in Argentina but raised in Miami, Bellumio has been instrumental in organizing events such as the MIA Music Summit, which brought together people in music and technology, entrepreneurs and investors, and also bringing SIME, a Europe-based event, to South Florida. Last year’s gathering was a partnership between SIME and MIA Collective, of which Bellumio is a founding partner, with support provided by Knight Foundation through 2015. But on this day, he says, more sponsors are needed. And if a potential backer is interested, he’s happy to talk.

    As it develops an ecosystem for high-tech entrepreneurs and investors, Bellumio is one of Miami’s most enthusiastic pitchmen. He has a success story to tell—and a passion for his hometown.

  • Article

    Hattie Mae Williams: Dancing to Miami’s History

    November 7, 2014 by Fernando González

    Hattie Mae Williams: Dancing to Miami’s History

    Photo: Hattie Mae Williams dancers in "Miami Sites Project" at Miami Marine Stadium.

    For dancer and choreographer Hattie Mae Williams, the question is not whether all the world’s a stage but why shouldn’t it be?

    She has taken her self-described guerrilla approach to dance performances to supermarkets and churches, subway platforms and cemeteries. “Culture Concrete,” her site-specific dance film project staged and shot at historic, and long-closed, Miami Marine Stadium, premieres Saturday, Nov. 15, at The LAB Miami in Wynwood.

    “Culture Concrete” is part of Williams’ Miami Sites Project, a 2013 Knight Arts Challenge Miami winner. It includes not only dance and film but music, photography and installations. In fact, Williams and her company, The Tattooed Ballerinas, will dance at the showing of The Miami Sites Mini Episodes series, short videos featuring guerrilla dance performances at places such as Target and bus stops, at Miami Book Fair International on Nov. 21.

    The project also includes plans to celebrate another historic place in South Florida, the 90-year-old Venetian Pool in Coral Gables.

    The idea is not only to explore the history and current life of these places, but, as she puts it, “reclaiming and reframing spaces through site-specific/context-specific dance, film, photography and narratives.”

  • Article

    Mario Ernesto Sanchez — and his commitment to theater — rewarded

    November 11, 2014 by Fernando González

    Mario Ernesto Sanchez — and his commitment to theater — rewarded

    Mario Ernesto Sanchez, founder and producing artistic director of Teatro Avante and the International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami, received the 2014 Legacy Award in Los Angeles, Sunday. The honor recognizes “outstanding individuals whose lifelong commitment to Latino Theater in the United States and Latin America will have a lasting impact on the field,” said Jose Luis Valenzuela, artistic director of the Latino Theater Company/LATC, in his letter to Sanchez informing him of the award.

    The presentation was part of the closing ceremonies of “Encuentro 2014,” a month-long gathering of Latin theater artists hosted by the Los Angeles Theatre Center in association with the Latina/o Theatre Commons.

    “Your work,” noted Valenzuela in his letter, “has had a profound influence on the development of Latino Theater both nationally and internationally.”

    Sanchez was honored alongside two other historic figures in Latino theater in the United States: Luis Valdez, founder and artistic director of El Teatro Campesino, a company founded in 1965, based in San Juan Bautista, Calif.; and Miriam Colon, founder and director of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, created in 1967 and recently merged with Pregones Theater, another important Latino theater institution.

    For Sanchez, a seemingly unsinkable champion of theater in Miami, the award means “that we have done a lot but we have a lot more to do. That’s all it means. I’m humbled by it but at the same time I’m very proud. But I always feel we haven’t done enough. We still need to create more interest in the residents of Miami for theater; that’s what we are still lacking.”

    “Don’t misunderstand me, I’m happy we are getting this award and it belongs to everybody who has helped Teatro Avante and the International Hispanic Theatre Festival to survive, and that includes audiences and sponsors. But I have to be honest, I think there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”  

  • Article

    Arts Challenge winner Ranjana Warier bridges cultures with dance

    February 19, 2015 by Fernando González

    Arts Challenge winner Ranjana Warier bridges cultures with dance

    Living in South Florida means crossing invisible borders every day, many times a day. Almost inevitably, at one time or another, we are all visitors in someone else’s traditions, have to learn a different code, be it in business or our personal lives, or find a common language.

    It is both enriching and a challenge. 

    It has also inspired Ranjana Warier, who was born in India, to become a facilitator.

    A senior security systems engineer for Miami-Dade County by day, Warier is also an Indian classical dancer, choreographer and teacher — with a passion for “demystifying” such rich tradition for new audiences unfamiliar with its history and aesthetics.