Miami Open Stage: The Inside Story

Last December, just before the holidays, I spoke with Dance NOW! Miami founders and creative directors Diego Salterini and Hannah Baumgarten about Miami Open Stage, their new quarterly open stage series showcasing local talent at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

The concept for Miami Open Stage comes from Salterini and Baumgarten’s decade-plus creative collaboration and their real-life performance experience in front of and behind the curtain. “The minute you see something on stage, you sometimes see things vastly different than in a more casual setting,” Salterini says. “Miami Open Stage is set in a theater environment. Open for complete works by choreographers who want a theater experience without the cost of paying for a theater like the Colony.”

Unlike Inkub8′s wildly popular experimental open-studio series, Miami Open Stage is focused on dance and is more “theater scholarship” as opposed to a working space for works-in-progress. But this doesn’t mean Miami Open Stage isn’t open to works-in-progress. In fact, for now, Miami Open Stage is open to any local choreographer who wants to take a stab at showcasing their work, even works-in-progress, for the general public. The only limitations are logistics, age-appropriate material and lighting limitations.

Another important element of Miami Open Stage is the educational talk back section of the evening, when the audience and choreographers have the chance to discuss the work they’ve just seen. It’s an open discussion, Actor’s Studio-like by design, and serves as a conduit between audience and choreographer. “We hope the audience will feel comfortable to ask, to learn, to get to know the inside stories behind the creation of the pieces they’ve just seen.”

Miami Open Stage is a group show that serves a vital purpose for building and strengthening the local dance community. By providing a platform for audience cross-pollination, bringing audiences together from different parts of the community who come to see X or Y choreographer, it exposes the larger community to works by choreographers they may not have been exposed to before.

I asked Salterini and Baumgarten how do you foresee Miami Open Stage impacting the larger dance/theater community in South Florida. “If you live in Memphis or Nashville, you know you’re going to see great musical talent wherever you go. You’ll know you’ll hear something amazing,” says Salterini and Baumgarten. “We’re trying to open up the Little Haiti Cultural Center for the public to see the extraordinary local talent in Miami.”

Miami is full of talent. Miami Open Stage provides yet another opportunity for that talent to sing (or dance) beneath the spotlights. The Series may also encourage those dancers and choreographers working in the shadows on the periphery of the local dance scene to take the next step. It may also bring a wider audience to emerging and established choreographers. Without spending a dime, local talent can put up their next show. Showcase their work. Receive direct feedback from local audiences. And, most importantly, bring their vision to life as they see fit.

The next Miami Open Stage takes place on March 17, 2012; at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10. Performers interested in submitting work, please visit

Miami Open Stage at Little Haiti Cultural Center
212 NE 59th Terrace
Miami, FL 33137

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