Baba Israel leads MDC Live Arts Lab

arts / Article

I locked myself out of my house yesterday. I had woken up and decided to wash my clothes before morning coffee. This led me directly to the laundry room in the garage when, for some magical reason, the door locked behind me. Wearing nothing but dirty clothes I dug out of the laundry and bed head, I ran across the street and banged on my neighbor's door to ask for help. This led to an interesting conversation about the performing art scene in Miami vs. New York.

Baba Israel.

“There's no comparison,” my neighbor said. “New York has Broadway. We have the Arsht.”

I didn't argue. "This is true," I said, biting my tongue.

My neighbor is big Broadway fan. He spends two weekends a year there and hits six or seven shows per trip. I proceeded to gave him a brief, yet detailed overview of the local arts and culture scene in Miami. Told him about the innovative performing artists, dancers and theater companies working throughout the region. I gave him my ready-made speech: Miami will never be New York, and that's ok because we're doing innovative stuff here. You just don't see it. His eyes glazed over.

That's when it hit me: do we have to measure up?

One of those institutions that is, in fact, measuring up is Miami Dade College's MDC Live Arts Lab” (Knight Arts grantee), "a professional development laboratory for locally-based working artists in dance, music, moving image, performance, visual and literary arts.” MDC Live Arts Lab programs intensive month-long workshops with master level practitioners that culminates in a public workshop performance. During the month of August, multidisciplinary performer Baba Israel will take over MDC Live Arts Lab.

Israel began his career exploring spoken word, hip hop and experimental performance. His work has since evolved to include his new solo show “Boom Bap Meditations,” which was awarded funding from the Ford Foundation and The Hip Hop Theater Festival. Watch an excerpt from "Boom Bap Meditations" on Vimeo.

Miami isn't New York. We can't waste time wallowing in that kind of performance envy–it won't get us anywhere. But MDC Live Arts Lab is one of those institutions that's keeping culture moving forward for Miami and New York. To take part in this movement, enroll in Israel's intensive lab. For detailed information about the lab, prices, and work study and scholarship information, visit

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