A few weeks ago, in full stealth-mode, I snuck into the Miami Light Project to borrow their bench and ice-cold air. A rock was propping the side door open. It was hideously hot, and the air conditioning at the Wynwood Warehouse, where I was working across the street, wasn't cutting it. I'm not shy, so I walked in. I hate to sweat. While I sat on the bench, I heard voices, music, footsteps wonderfully merge into a semi-melodic, circus-like symphony. And that's when it hit me. They were rehearsing for the 17th annual Here & Now festival, which commissions and presents local works. Here & Now 2015 will feature new work from Miami-based artists Liz Ferrer, Lazaro Godoy, Hattie Mae Williams and Michael Yawney.
Hattie Mae Williams. I got up. Pulled out my laptop. Walked toward the music. I found Godoy, Mélanie Martel and Carlota Pradera gearing up and stretching to rehearse for Harmonicum Accordion / Act I, Godoy's homage to circus life via the story of a dysfunctional family. I sat on the cement floor as Godoy talked about the concept of the performance and the soundtrack played on loop in the background. " Harmonicum Accordion is a harmony where we are the elements," Godoy said. "It has elements of circus, of fairytale, that gets us away from certain realities, but where truth can be found within the dynamics of a family." Here & Now is like a family, yet this family is a highly functional organization that has grown into one of the most significant commissioning series in South Florida. It has fostered and promoted more than 75 South Florida-based artists since 1999–artists who have gone on to perform around the world–and indirectly promotes a legion of costume designers, lighting designers, visual artists, musicians, poets and other creatives who collaborate and work with the commissioned artists. A grant from the Knight Arts Challenge Miami helped the Miami Light Project create and fund a residency program, through which artists receive year-round, dedicated rehearsal space at The Light Box. These artists' work is then presented during the Knight Emerging Artists Series at the festival. The impact of these programs on the community isn't immeasurable. Just walk in one night and see for yourself. Here & Now 2015 performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 7-16 at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 N.W. 26th St., Miami. Tickets are $25 ($10 for students and seniors) and can be purchased by calling 866-811-4111 or by clicking here. For a full description of each of the commissioned works, visit miamilightproject.com.