Irina Kazakova – contortionist/artist Travel Tales

I meet the most interesting people on my Journeys – an important aspect we build into our client Journeys. On a recent client visit to the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan, we organized several very special events: an exclusive visit to an award winning Whiskey Distillery, small rural farms and a visit to a private Japanese Sword Studio, one of the last sword-smiths in Japan.

Broad cultural and exclusive experiences deepen our appreciation for foreign countries, their artists and craftsmen. Pleasurable experiences and adventure still to be discovered.

On my recent stop in Miami, I wandered the hallways of the Faena Hotel and heard the most ethereal music seeping from glossy ruby red doors of the Faena Theatre… I discovered this young woman rehearsing for the Faena C’est Rouge Cabaret.

Irina Kazakova at Faena Hotel

I later met the star performer, a former Russian gymnast and contortionist, Irina Kazakova. Sitting at the outdoor Faena bar, she shared her history and intriguing career…what a delicious slice of life!

Irina Kazakova is an award-winning gymnast and the founder of SunAllure. She is known for her multifaceted aerial-contortion art form and dance. At the age of six Irina began rhythmic gymnastics in Moscow.  From 2002 to 2007 she was a Russian National Team member. She has won many achievements and is the Russian 2002 Honored Master of Sports in Rhythmic Gymnastics, of which is the highest national honor within this field.  She is also the 2003 Russian Cup Champion of Russia for all-around gymnastics, hoop, and ball.

Enjoy more of her photos and art on these sites.

Please click to enjoy the rehearsal session


The Faena Empire Miami

Until recently, I had only briefly hopscotched through Miami as a stopping point to an exotic Latin American destination. A few of my fashionista clients pop in for Art Basel, thus I have a working knowledge of hotels, however, I had not stayed.

Needing to escape from our exceptionally long and dreadful election cycle, I added on a few days en route to the Dominican Republic, departing the day after the election. This week long Journey was followed by site inspections in London & Paris; perhaps travel will be my antidote to politics…a four-year period of site inspections…plotting the route.

In subsequent weeks, I will be sharing my Miami hotel visits – as we each have distinctive fingerprints, there is a hotel suitable for each traveler or an appropriate hotel for a particular travel purpose.

I thought I knew what to expect with the new Faena in Miami as I have visited the strikingly wild Faena in Buenos Aires. Francis Mallmann, the Argentine asado grill master is always an enticement – but what I discovered at The Faena, is that it is more than a hotel – it is now an actual district of Miami.

Alan Faena is an Argentine entrepreneur who is deeply immersed in working with well-known architects and artists; in general, he creates a narrative within his projects. Prowling around the Faena, I discovered a small theatre, music leaking from the glimmering high gloss ruby red doors – I peeked in and covertly watched the rehearsal of an act that vaguely resembled a Cirque du Soleil performance. Later at the outdoor cocktail bar, a striking young woman complimented me on my Panama hat – we chatted and I shared my peek behind the magic door – she said, oh, that was me, I was ‘flying’ – we are preparing for the new C’est Rouge Cabaret!  She revealed that she is a contortionist – a dazzling performer in the weekly show.…In all my years of traveling, this is a first, meeting a contortionist, enjoy a peek yourself of the captivating Irina Kazakova

At my breakfast meeting, I shared my story, Carrie laughed and said this is exactly what Alan is designing – a convergence of performers, art and culture overlapping with his hotel guests and Miami visitors.

I had read of the Rem Koolhaas involvement with the Faena Forum and was dying to view it, even though the opening procession and ceremony would be a week out. I wasn’t disappointed; we traipsed through the stunning performance space across the street from the Faena Hotel. The Faena District hosts two hotels, an elegant residential tower, the arts centre, the Faena Forum designed by architects OMA, the Rem Koolhaas firm.

The six block Forum also contains a dedicated retail area, the Faena Bazaar – a combination of retail and dining venues. Performances at the white concrete cylindrical shaped building will include lectures, readings and exhibitions. The unusual shape is accented with over 400 geometrically shaped windows and designed in amphitheater style. Picture lavish amphitheater, interior space clad in pale pink Rosa Portugal marble, the domed Pantheon ceiling rises up to a ribbed coffered dome. A little gem of a space, designed to hold an intimate audience or expand to hold as many as 750 guests.

Madonna was scheduled to perform in the main space in aid of her foundation Raising Malawi.

Alan Faena orchestrates his vision with a impressive sense of intrepid drama, vivid colors and sensuality, the Faena experience doesn’t disappoint. Each platform unfolds to yield surprises, inspire awe and remind you that there are wizards in many fields, including the hospitality industry.

The Faena Empire in Miami is permeated with vibrant colors, enticing events, amazing dining and almost continuous sunshine!