Hotel seeking new dancers for downtown Miami skyline

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hotel seeking new dancers for downtown Miami skyline


The 19-story dancing lady still has her moves, but after adorning the side of the InterContinental Miami for the last year — and earning plenty of second glances — she’s ready to retire.

Thursday, the downtown hotel will hold auditions to find its next “mover and shaker.” But unlike the current dancer, whose style is more stripper than salsa, the new generation will likely shake a little less suggestively.

“We won’t rule anything out,” said Robert Hill, the hotel’s general manager. “But yes, I would expect that these dancers would dance more to their genre.”

The 31-year-old hotel installed the digital canvas last year as part of a $30 million renovation meant to upgrade the property and create buzz. That mission was accomplished early on whenEntourage actor Jeremy Piven, brought in to flip the switch at the unveiling last December, showed up late to the ceremony over concerns that the image was too risqué.

Since then, the hair-flipping, arms-in-the-air silhouette has entertained, amused or annoyed from its spot in the city’s skyline.

“It’s gotten a lot of great feedback, a lot of people have just told us that they love it, it’s so Miami,” said Hill. “And there’s been some people that didn't like it or were turned off by it. It was meant to represent Miami...It’s urban, it’s fresh yet at the same time it’s a little bit edgy.”

Little is known about the woman behind the current image. David Schwartz, media producer for technology design firm Fresh Juice Global, worked on the project with an animator in Shanghai and said the woman was a Russian who performed in China.

The plan has always been to change up the content, Hill said, and even now the dancing lady alternates with scrolling letters that convey messages such as “Welcome to Miami” or, when appropriate, “Heat Win.” But the image of the dancer was popular — and intriguing — enough that the hotel decided to continue the theme with local performers whose stories could be publicized.

That decision led to Thursday’s “dance off,” which will be judged by Miami City Ballet principal dancer Jeanette Delgado, the Miami Heat’s Clara Stroude-Vazquez and Jane Castro, a singer who appeared on the VH1 reality show Tough Love Miami. Hill said as many as three winners could be chosen, each ideally specializing in styles of dance that represent Miami. In addition to local fame, the prize is a two-night stay at the hotel.

Hill said the initial audition can accommodate 400 dancers, who will perform in groups of eight to a song chosen by the hotel. (Tip: That song is likely to be Hotel Room Service by Pitbull.) Judges will choose 30 or 40 finalists, who will be asked to perform in their own genres Friday. Winners should be chosen by Friday night, and a new dancing man or woman could appear on the side of the building in time for Art Basel festivities in early December.

Delgado said judges have some marching orders: They need to choose dancers who exemplify Miami — and whose movements will translate well into a contained vertical space.

Although familiar with the hotel’s dancing lady, Delgado said she never knew the back story.

“I thought it was a really awesome idea of them to make it something a little bit more representative of Miami and the way Miami is moving culturally and artistically,” she said. “To make it less like a club lady and maybe more like a form of dance that’s specific.”

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