YoungArts Campus Transforms to Swampland

Miami Native Says Multimedia Creation Is A Thriller

Cameron Basden

Yara Travieso (photo: Gesi Schilling)


Yara Travieso (photo: Gesi Schilling)

Usually a vast open space of concrete and ornamental glass, the YoungArts Plaza on Biscayne Boulevard will be transformed into a swampy Florida wetland in the one-night only performance of “El Ciclón” directed and produced by YoungArts alumna, artist, choreographer and filmmaker, Yara Travieso. Part of the YoungArts Outside the Box series, the performance on Saturday, May 12, is free and open to the public.

Travieso, a Miami native, is no stranger to magical transformations. A graduate of New World School of the Arts High School under the helm of Daniel Lewis, she applied to YoungArts and was a winner in dance. Larry Rhodes, then director of the dance department at Juilliard was in the audience for her final YoungArts performance and, after an audition, offered Travieso a full scholarship to the esteemed Manhattan conservatory.

“This was a scholarship opportunity that I never thought I would have. So really YoungArts was a major part of my life, my family’s life and the beginning of my career.” Travieso says.

She was a dancer who loved cinematography and wanted to find a way to combine the two.

“I was always doing film and my own kind of hybrid projects. I (co-) founded a film festival in Miami called the Borscht Film Festival and during the year I would do my “pliés.” In the summers, I’d make short films. So I was really studying both art forms at once.” she says laughingly.


Landing a job as a dancer at the Metropolitan Opera house in New York allowed Travieso to have a steady job while exploring her other passions. “I knew I needed to create my own work, to explore this hybrid world of narrative, physical and cinema.”

So began a career that has taken Travieso through film, dance-theater, and immersive installation among the numerous projects she has created.

“For the kind of work I do, there is not really a set infrastructure or tradition. Martha Graham had a vision to her work, the all encompassing, director, choreographer, artist. And Pina Bausch (German director and choreographer) created a world that gave her more room for exploration and creativity. So these all encompassing female artists have always been around. I think coming from dance, it’s difficult to make that leap from seeing a woman through her body into seeing her through her mind or behind the scenes.”

But making that leap is exactly what Travieso has done.


YoungArts has been a source of support throughout Travieso’s career. “Through all the projects, schools and grants I’ve been a part of, YoungArts has really been the only one who has stuck with me in this long term, nurturing way. It’s rare.”

Travieso spoke of her latest project in Miami. “The work that I’m doing here is really just the genesis; it will keep developing and that is very exciting to me. Allowing myself the space to tap into the narratives of my home. Many of my works revolve around a female heroin, a part of the neo-feminist mythology world that I’m interested in. For this story, the heroin, Ava, is a new kind of hero, a person to aspire to.”

The story of “El Ciclón” is an intriguing, thriller that involves an escaped fugitive, angry alligators and the Florida swamps.

“The story has a lot of literary references, a sense of myth, a moral impossibility, and the infinite situation that we, as women, have found ourselves in so many times. There is, sort of, a timelessness to this story that we’re telling in a new way.”

For this production, Travieso has put together a team comprised of YoungArts alumni Kelley Kessell (2012 Winner in Theater and Voice and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Daniela Amaro (2016 Winner in Voice),  Roxanne Young, as well as individuals who are regular collaborators. Ryan Hartley Smith has created posters for this work, installation artist, Brookhart Jonquil will help her envision the set and composer Sam Crawford has created the sound.

“The whole project is meant for live audience, but there is also a live cinematic element happening during the work. It is going to be a really special, very cool and different performance.”


“EL CICLÓN” at Outside the Box


Free and open to the public

Friday, May 12 at 8 P.M. (doors open at 7 p.m.)

YoungArts Plaza at 2100 Biscayne Boulevard.

Info: 305.377-1140 or



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