Previous supporters and backers of the Ringling International Arts Festival were among the first to hear about the event’s upcoming second season, to take place Oct. 13-17.
At a reception and announcement held at the Historic Asolo Theater, festival manager Dwight Currie welcomed guests and Stanford Makishi, executive director of the New York-based Baryshnikov Arts Center, which is responsible for the artistic programming for the festival. First up: Currie and the audience decided on the correct way to pronounce the festival’s acronym, RIAF (that’s RE-aff from now on); then Currie introduced Makishi and the two presented the festival line-up.
The festival’s opening night, Oct. 13, is billed as a “night of premieres,” and includes four productions. The fourth , The Forman Brothers Theatre Obludarium, will be housed in a tent brought from the Czech Republic and set up on the Ringling grounds. The others will fill the three theaters already on the FSU/Ringling property.
Among those premieres: Rising violin star Tim Fain performs an evening of Bach and a new work (a RIAF commission) by Philip Glass. Makishi called the handome Fain “the matinee idol of musicians,” but assured the audience he’s a great talent as well as good looking.
Another opening night offering is also an RIAF commission: It’s a short play titled Capricho by Pulitzer Prize winner (and Florida native) Nilo Cruz, a piece that will also feature an Asolo Rep actor. And the fourth premiere of the night will be the most exciting to Mikhail Baryshnikov fans: The acclaimed dancer, who was a presence during last year’s festival but did not perform, will this year take the stage with fellow dancer David Neumann in another RIAF-commissioned evening featuring works by Susan Marshall.
That will be hard to follow, but Makishi assured his listeners that they will also be intrigued by the John Jasperse Company, which performs Magic, Mystery and other mundane events during the festival, saying the company “always challenges audiences to accept his concept of beauty.” More dance will come from Les Slovaks Dance Collective, a company that Makishi said he and Baryshnikov watched on a DVD and were immediately excited by. And the Rubberbandance Group presents a meeting of street cool and high art with choreographer Victor Quijada’s Loan Sharking.
There’ll be more music with Romanian-born singer Sanda Weigl and her Takeishi Band, paying tribute to Gypsy music with Gypsy in a Tree, and with young bassist and jazz singer Kate Davis (she’s not yet 20 but has already performed at the White House and the Kennedy Center). And theater is well represented with performances of the one-man show Space Panorama by Brit Andrew Dawson (who somehow manages to take audiences to the moon and back using just his body and acting skills) and by a company Makishi said Baryshnikov was most excited of all to present: The Theater Art Studio, which will perform The Boys, a powerful adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, in Russian with English surtitles.
Currie also said there will be later announcements, including more creative involvements with both Sarasota and Bradenton’s visitors’ and arts groups, to come. But for now, those interested in learning more about RIAF or purchasing festival passes (single ticket sales will not be available until May) should call 360-7399 or visit ringlingartsfestival.org.