MDC Nurtures Talent and Creativity at NWSAA solid history of success that shows no signs of slowing down

Robert Battle and dancers
Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and dancers

It’s hard to tell just one story that describes the success of Miami Dade College’s New World School of the Arts (NWSA). To describe it as a center of excellence in the visual and performing arts is accurate, but it doesn’t fully convey the remarkable role it plays in preparing students for professional careers in the arts or how it exemplifies Miami’s rising status as a vital pool of talent and cultural diversity.

The Florida State Legislature established The New World School of the Arts in 1984 to provide artistically talented high school and college students the means to achieve both an academic education and artistic training. The school, which began accepting students in 1986, awards Associate of Arts degrees from Miami Dade College, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from the University of Florida and a high school degree from Miami Dade County Public Schools. NWSA’s audition-based programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design.

As a creative engine churning out success stories, NWSA is rising in stature with each passing year. Many alumni embark on professional careers that lead to impressive credits. Here are just a few examples:


“I grew up in Liberty City and made it to Alvin Ailey…”

Robert Battle is the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He is one of only three people to have held that prestigious position since the company opened in 1958. Battle had to wear corrective leg braces before entering elementary school but inspired by seeing the Alvin Ailey company, he took his first dance class when he was thirteen and embarked on the path that led him to the doors of NWSA. There, he enrolled as a student, learned his craft and eventually graduated and left—first to be a dancer with the Alvin Ailey company and now its artistic director. Battle was recently in Miami to present his first commissioned work, one of ten works commissioned for the Arsht Center’s 10th anniversary. Among the dancers he brought with him to perform was Jamar Roberts, another esteemed NWSA alumni.


Jesus is in the house and on the streets in the Fox Network production The Passion, a live musical produced by Tyler Perry that retells the passion of Christ in modern terms. NWSA alumnus Jencarlos Canela plays the central role of Jesus, surrounded by a cast of well-known musical names including Trisha Yearwood and Chris Daughtry. This role is just the latest in a long string of high profile projects for Jencarlos including stints on some of the most successful telenovelas in recent history. He also began a musical career when he was 12, as the lead singer of a pop group. He has since released several solo albums and toured around the country. Even though he was already embarking on a professional career during his early years, Jencarlos stayed in school at NWSA and graduated with honors in 2006.


For almost a decade, the College Theater program at NWSA has taken its Bachelor of Fine Arts graduating class on a life-changing journey to New York to participate in a showcase where they can meet, interact and network with agents and casting directors. It’s also an opportunity for students to experience professional auditions and hopefully callbacks for Broadway and Off-Broadway castings.

The 2015 group of talented young newcomers was met in New York by established actors and fellow alumni Katie Finneran and Natalie Gold. Finneran is a two-time Tony Winner and Natalie Gold has appeared in dozens of roles in film, television and on Broadway. Finneran won her first Tony and a Drama Desk Award for the play Noises Off in 2002 and her second Tony for Promises, Promises in 2010. She was back on Broadway in 2015 starring in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play. Gold has been working steadily since 2002 and is perhaps best known for her role on the TV show Rubicon. She was most recently seen in the TV series The Leftovers and the Oscar-winning film Birdman. The two actresses answered questions and made themselves available to the new NWSA grads as guides and mentors during their week in the city.

Through a combination of excellent training and a well-organized selection of scenes, monologues and songs that showed their range and skill, the NWSA grads were able to demonstrate their passion and readiness to work at their craft. The New York casting professionals said it was one of the best showcases of talent they had ever seen. The new graduates hope to be working professionally soon and joining a growing list of NWSA alumni who are successfully pursuing their dream careers.


For more information and to start your career in the arts, contact:

New World School of the Arts Director of Student Services
Leslie Wilson or (305) 237-3472