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From Peruvian folk dance to Nina Simone: Miami-born choreographer comes home with new ballet

Miami-born choreographer Margarita Armas brings her latest work "Analogo" to Miami City Ballet.
Miami City Ballet
Miami-born choreographer Margarita Armas brings her latest work "Analogo" to Miami City Ballet.

Twenty-one years ago, Margarita Armas was twirling on stage in a toddler version of the colorful costume her mother routinely wore in performance.

Both of Armas's parents were professional Peruvian folklore dancers and taught their daughter the rudiments of the spirited marinera — where the courtship of a man and a woman are put to dance.

But in recent months, 23-year-old Armas could be found wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the rehearsal studios of Miami City Ballet, guiding dancers through a searing rendition of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" sung by Nina Simone.

Armas says that particular song has the same vibe as a Peruvian vals.

"I'm so captivated by her voice," she says. "I just love choreographing and moving to her music."

The Simone song was Armas's choice for the third and last section of her new ballet, Analogo — which has its world premiere with Miami City Ballet this month.

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Armas was born, raised and had the bulk of her training as a ballet dancer in Miami. In recent years, she pivoted to choreography and says it's wonderful to be able to debut her new work in her hometown.

"I've just been so grateful to be able to collaborate with dancers that I've looked up to ever since I was seven years old when I got into Miami City Ballet School," says Armas.

"It's a full circle moment."

IF YOU GO

MIAMI CITY BALLET Winter Mix

Concerto DSCH
Choreography
Alexei Ratmansky
Music
Dmitri Shostakovich

Analogo (World Premiere)
Choreography
Margarita Armas
Music
Aukai, Miss Meadow, Nina Simone

PAGANINI, In Play (World Premiere)
Choreography
Durante Verzola
Music
Niccolò Paganini

Firebird
Choreography
George Balanchine
© The George Balanchine Trust
Jerome Robbins
Music
Igor Stravinsky

WHERE AND WHEN:

Miami
Adrienne Arsht Center
for the Performing Arts
Fri, Feb 9 at 7:30PM
Sat, Feb 10 at 7:30PM
Sun, Feb 11 at 2:00PM

Ft. Lauderdale
Broward Center for the
Performing Arts
Sat, Feb 17 at 7:30PM
Sun, Feb 18 at 2:00PM

For ticket information, visit miamicityballet.org.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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