Rosie Herrera

Rosie Herrera is a Cuban-American dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Rosie Herrera Dance Theater in Miami. She is a graduate from New World School with a BFA in Dance Performance. She has been commissioned by The Miami Light Project, The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Place, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Ballet Hispanico, Moving Ground Dance Theater, Houston Met Dance and the American Dance Festival (ADF) in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016.

Rosie is a classically trained lyric coloratura soprano and performs with the Performers Music Institute Opera Ensemble as well as choreographs and stages operas independently throughout Miami. With over a decade of experience in both dance and cabaret, she has collaborated on productions with The South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, New World School of the Arts, The University of Central Florida, Six Floor Ensemble, Zoetic Stage and the New World Symphony as well as with the interdisciplinary performance ensemble/avant- garde cabaret Circ X. She has also collaborated with filmmakers Adam Reign, Lucas Leyva, George Echevarria and Clyde Scott to create original short films and music videos.

Her company has been presented by the Northrop Dance Series, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Baryshnicov Arts Center, Texas A & M University, Duncan Theater, The Annenburg Center in Philadelphia, Gotham Dance at Skirball and Focus Dance at The Joyce NYC as well as by The American Dance Festival at the Joyce NYC in 2016.

Rosie is a 2016 USArtist Sarah Arison Choreographic Fellow, a 2010 MANCC choreographic fellow, a 2014 Bates Dance Festival Artist in residence and a 2011 and 2016 Miami Dance Fellow.  She was awarded a Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship for her work with Ballet Hispanico. She has also set work on Moving Ground Dance Theater and Houston Met Dance.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | January 25 - February 8, 2018

Make Believe

Rosie Herrera returned to MANCC to develop her latest evening-length dance theater work, Make Believe, which explores magic, celebrity worship, and romantic love through the lens of ritual and religious spectacle.

Herrera grew up equally familiar with the tenets of Christianity and the Afro-Cuban “voodoo” practice of Santeria. Not only are her parents devoutly Catholic, they were also briefly connected to a religious cult. She was also tightly bonded to her Tio Juanito, a mystic whose unexpected trance-like premonitions were revered by her family. This, combined with her family’s obsession with celebrity astrologer Walter Mercado, comes together to define her unique spiritual identity rooted in a dramatic and intimate relationship with the divine. At a time when fear of otherness is at a fever pitch, and our most intimate selves are shielded behind online profiles, Herrera finds her family’s rapturous search for deliverance in God and love to be in sharp contrast, even threatening, to a regressive and judgmental piety that looms over the American cultural landscape. For Make Believe, Herrera looks at how the influence of religion during childhood impacts one's notions of romantic love later in life.

Convening her entire cast and design team as well as dramaturg David Brick, Co-Director of Headlong Dance Institute, at MANCC represents a shift in her practice toward a longer term collaboration, where set, costume, and music designers help shape the work in the studio from the very outset.

During the residency Herrera met with a variety of scholars and experts to deepen her research at the intersections of love and religion. Dr. François Dupuigrenet-Desroussilles, Professor of Religion specializing in 16th century Christianity, joined Herrera and her cast in the rehearsal studio. After viewing several vignettes the cast had been working on, Dupuigrenet-Desroussilles discussed the history and evolution of visual representation within the Christian tradition, the differences between reality and its representations, and notions of faith represented through extreme pain and ecstacy.

Trained as a classical opera singer, Herrera is also deeply interested in the physical and emotional healing potential of sound, particularly the voice. To this end, Herrera and her cast attended a local “group sing” of Sacred Harp Singers. The group provided a brief overview of their practice of shape note singing in four-part harmony, its history beginning in New England, and later its revival in the primitive rural churches of the American Southeast. Further, they shared personal stories of mourning, healing, and communitas found in the practice of singing.

Herrera’s experience with the Sacred Harp singers led her to another singing group, the local chapter of the California-based Threshold Choir, which gathers to sing songs of comfort and joy to those “at the thresholds of life.” Founded in the 1990’s by musician Kate Munger, the Threshold Choir was inspired while caring for a loved one dying of HIV/AIDs. Now, with chapters across the United States, volunteer singers come to the bedsides of hospice patients with the goal of bringing comfort and solace through shared energy and song. In preparation for an event honoring survivors of suicide, the Tallahassee Threshold Choir invited Herrera’s cast to experience their rehearsal process, taking turns as the “receivers” of song.

Herrera also used her time at MANCC to experiment with several visual design elements of the work. In a section of the work that comments on romantic life mediated through digital platforms, dancers experimented using the glow of their cell phones as theatrical lighting. FSU School of Dance students were invited to participate in this experiment, as Herrera tried the idea with an expanded cast. This sparked another idea for a potential community engagement element of the work, in which local community members are invited to join the performance.

Herrera also conducted movement experiments inside of a rented bounce house as an element of the set for the work. Herrera envisioned a bounce house blown up in real time during the performance, which required a deep understanding of the materiality and mechanics of the bounce house, and what can safely be accomplished in performance.

The residency culminated in an informal work-in-progress showing on Monday, February 5th, 6pm, in the Montgomery Hall Black Box Studio. The showing was open to the public, and attended by members of both the Sacred Harp and the Threshold Choir, Dr. François Dupuigrent-Desroussilles, students and faculty of the School of Dance, Pam Green of PGM Artist Management, Laurie Uprichard, Senior Curator of Performing Arts at the Contemporary Art Center (CAC), New Orleans, and William Bowling, Performing Arts Manager, CAC.

Make Believe premiered in July 2018 at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

  • Performers rehearse in studio
  • Performer Loren Davidson with Katie Stirman, Elaine Wright Roarke, and Ivonne Batanero
  • Rosie Herrera works with cast
  • Dramaturg David Brick works with performers Batanero, Wright Roarke, Davidson, and James Raney
  • Performers Simon Thomas-Train and James Raney along with Davidson and Batanero
  • Herrera guides performers in Black Box
  • Entire cast rehearsing in Black Box
  • Raney and Wright Roarke
  • Batanero, Davidson, and Raney
  • Simon Thomas-Train and Ivonne Batanero
  • Thomas-Train and Batanero
  • Thomas-Train and Batanero
  • Ivonne Batanero in Black Box
  • Elaine Wright Roarke
  • Rosie Herrera and her cast attend local “group sing” of Sacred Harp Singers
  • Herrera and cast meets with the local chapter of the California-based Threshold Choir
  • The group gathers to sing songs of comfort and joy to those “at the thresholds of life.”
  • Performer Ivonne Batanero
  • Performers Simon Thomas-Train and Elaine Wright Roarke
  • Thomas-Train and Wright Roarke
  • Performers Katie Stirman and Elaine Wright Roarke
  • Stirman and Wright Roarke
  • Stirman and Wright Roarke
  • Stirman and Wright Roarke
  • Visual Consultant Maiko Matsushima, Dramaturg David Brick and Rosie Herrera meet with<br>Dr. François Dupuigrenet-Desroussilles
  • Ivonne Batanero on top of bounce house at 621 Gallery
  • Performers inside bounce house at 621 Gallery
  • Herrera talks with writer Melissa Sandor and Matsushima
  • James Raney illuminated by cell phones during rehearsal
  • FSU students work with Rosie Herrera in Black Box rehearsal
  • FSU students perform in work-in-progress showing with cell phones
  • Herrera speaks before work-in-progress showing in Black Box
  • Entire cast performs in Black Box
  • James Raney surrounded by other performers
  • Performers Loren Davidson and Simon Thomas-Train
  • Performers during work-in-progress showing
  • Simon Thomas-Train with other performers
  • Performer Simon Thomas-Train with Loren Davidson
  • Performer Simon Thomas-Train
Collaborators in Residence: Ivonne Batanero, Loren Davidson, James Raney, Katie Stirman, Simon Thomas-Train, Elaine Wright RoarkeMaiko Matsushima [Costume], Oscar Diaz [Music Director], Juraj Koos [Composer], David Brick [Mentor] and Melissa Sandor [Writer]

Choreographic Fellow | September 6-27, 2010

Dining Alone and Pity Party

Throughout her upbringing as a Cuban-American daughter of a cook and restaurant-owner in Miami, Herrera had a particularly empathetic and undeniable visceral feeling toward watching others dine alone. These feelings triggered a larger search related to attitudes about dining situations, loneliness, isolation and aging. In preparation for Dining Alone, she sought to deconstruct her personal attitude/perspective and gather a broader cultural and generational views on these subject matters. At MANCC, Herrera held dialogue with a culturally diverse group of performers (drag queens, actors, dancers, break dancers and burlesque performers), who were all first or second generation immigrants and with Tallahassee community members and interlaced the conversations and findings into movement improvisations to begin shaping Dining Alone. She also continued exploring the development of Pity Party.

Dining Alone premiered at the American Dance Festival July 27-29, 2011.

  • Rosie Herrera at work-in-progress of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Octavio Campos in work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Octavio Campos in work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Octavio Campos in work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Octavio Campos in work-in-progress showing of <i>Dining Alone</i>.
  • Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Rosie Herrera speaks with FSU students during post viewing luncheon.
  • Rosie Herrera speaks with FSU student during post viewing luncheon.
  • Students talk with Herrera and collaborators during post viewing luncheon.

Collaborators in Residence: Lydia Bittner-Baird, Octavio Campos, Rachel Caroll, Liony Garcia, Rudi Goblen, Ana Mendez. Slideshow photos by Kathryn Noletto Felis and Al Hall.

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


Click to close x