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Miami Choreographer Channels Her Inner Showgirl, Teams Up With NY's Ballet Hispanico

Daniel Azoulay

Originally published June 6, 2014.

They’re cat’s-eye glasses, the kind that made Rocky’s girlfriend Adrian look like such a plain Jane in the first “Rocky” movie. But when Rosie Herrera wears them, she’s probably one of the few people who can make them look cool.

“I’ve had the same glasses since I was in the third grade,” says Herrera, with a chuckle. “I think I can pull them off because I really like them,” she says.

It’s not the only way the 30-year-old Hialeah-raised choreographer pays tribute to her past. As a teenager, Herrera worked as what she calls a “mini-showgirl” (she’s only five-foot-two) in Little Havana’s Teatro de Bellas Artes.

The Cuban cabaret culture and aesthetic are at the heart of “Show. Girl.,”a piece Herrera choreographed for New York’s venerable Ballet Hispanico. It has its world premiere at the Adrienne Arsht Center this weekend.

She says the inspiration for “Show. Girl.” was her first male partner, a barrel-chested, muscle-bound performer who modeled his stage act after showgirls and eventually became a drag queen. Herrera says the dance piece is an examination of how society constructs – and defines -- male and female identities.

Credit Daniel Azoulay
Ballet Hispanico dancers in rehearsal for Herrera's "Show. Girl."

“Seeing this movement and these gestures on this extremely masculine man helped me see the aesthetic of showgirl movements in a completely objective way for the first time,” says Herrera.

If you go:

What - Ballet HispanicoAn evening of dance, including the world premiere of Rosie Herrera's "Show. Girl." 

When - 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 6th and 7th.

Where - Ziff Ballet Opera House, Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

More information - arshtcenter.org.

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