Sarasota calling: Ringling Int'l Arts Festival

A must for fans of cutting-edge theater, art, music and dance.

Also on tap: the eclectic string quartet Brooklyn Rider; an “unsentimental homage” to Irish step dancing by Colin Dunne (perhaps he can banish all memories of Riverdance from our brains); Terra Firma, a dance by Company Stefanie Batten Bland that explores the challenges of travel by boat (an intriguing idea for a usually landlocked art form); singer Meklit Hadero, combining the sounds of Ethiopia, folk and rock in a musical form known as Tizita; and Piano Foursome, classically trained pianists who perform solo and as a quartet.


Ringling Museum courtyard.
  • Ringling Museum courtyard.


The festival is worth a visit for its ambience alone: a marvelous mix of never-seen-before and always-wanted-to-see and did-you-see-that, all taking place in and around the beautiful facilities of the Ringling complex, including the painstakingly restored Historic Asolo Theater. Believe it: If arts aficionados are making a trek across the Atlantic to sample RIAF, then we have no excuse for not taking a relatively short drive down to Sarasota to enjoy one of our area’s most distinctive cultural attractions.


Ringling International Arts Festival, Oct. 11-16, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Tickets begin at $20. Purchase tickets online at ringlingartsfestival.org or call the box office at 941-360-7399 or 800-660-4278.

click to enlarge Asphalt Orchestra - Stephanie Berger
Stephanie Berger
Asphalt Orchestra

  • Stephanie Berger
  • Asphalt Orchestra

If a Central Florida arts festival is being talked up as far away as London, you’d have to think it was kind of a big deal, eh? Well, you’d be right; the Ringling International Arts Festival at Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art is a big deal — in the words of TimeOut London, its “progressive program… would rival anything in New York or London.”

The festival boasts a supreme NYC/European pedigree; it’s presented in partnership with New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center, whose namesake artistic director, ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov, oversees the selection of talent and attends performances. I still remember the inaugural season three years ago, with Mr. B himself roaming the lobbies while a wonderfully motley audience gathered for offerings like the well-oiled Elevator Repair Service adaptation of The Sun Also Rises, now a sensation Off-Broadway.

This year, we’re once again being treated to a mix of theater, dance, music and art on the cutting edge. Among the must-sees on my list: Doug Elkins and Friends’ Fraulein Maria, a goofy/poignant choreographic take on The Sound of Music; the Wooster Group’s reimagining of Richard Burton’s famous black-turtlenecked 1964 Hamlet; Canta Tangos, a potentially revelatory performance of traditional Argentinian man-to-man tango; the mechanized kinetic sculptures of Swiss artist Zimoun at the Museum; and an opening-night performance by the Asphalt Orchestra, billed as a mix of halftime show and contemporary music concert that might just be the marching band to end all marching bands.

Scroll to read more Local Arts articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]