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Performing Art
RIAF's opening-night festivities kick off with Asphalt Orchestra, a 12-piece New York City marching band.
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2011 4 years ago

RIAF reels in fresh faces and edgy entertainment

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

The 2011 Ringling International Arts Festival is already surprising us — and it’s still seven months away.
When Mikhail Baryshnikov suddenly stepped onto the stage Saturday night at the Historic Asolo Theater to announce this year’s fall lineup, he drew an audible gasp from the crowd. (His appearance wasn’t on the evening’s bill.)

“This is first and foremost a Ringling Festival,” Baryshnikov said of the six-day festival, now in its third year in Sarasota. “(The Baryshnikov Arts Center) is just here to be helpers and cheerleaders.”

The 63-year-old Russian ballet dancer is obviously much more than just a cheerleader, as each year his name seems to draw more up-and-coming New York City star power to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The eight stage productions announced Saturday night were no exception.

The festival, which runs Oct. 11 through Oct. 16, opens with Asphalt Orchestra, a 12-piece street band dubbed by The New York Times as, “part parade spectacle, part halftime show and part cutting-edge contemporary music concert.”

The week rolls on with The Wooster Group performing Richard Burton’s famous 1964 production of “Hamlet” and Ethiopian-born singer/songwriter Meklit Hadero, whose lush voice has drawn comparisons to Norah Jones, singing “Songs of Multiplicity.”

Irish dancer Colin Dunne will tear up the Mertz Theatre with his 65-minute step dance “Out of Time” as Doug Elkins & Friends performs “Fräulein Maria,” a witty Balanchine-meets-Martha-Graham-meets-hip-hop tribute to Julie Andrews, complete with male dancers in purple dresses frolicking to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.”

According to Dwight Currie, Ringling’s deputy director, “You’ll never be able to see ‘The Sound of Music’ the same again.”

The gender-bending continues with the Hermanos Macana Brothers performing the Argentine tango to music sung by Soledad Villamil, who starred in the 2010 Academy Award-winning foreign film “El secreto de sus ojos.” The men prove the tango can still be sexy even when danced by two brothers from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meanwhile, in the Historic Asolo Theater, the gripping string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, will perform in rotating rep with the Paris-based dance troupe Stefanie Batten Bland/sbb birdlegs and the internationally acclaimed piano foursome of Inon Barnatan, Adam Golka, Anne-Marie McDermott and Pedja Muzijevic.

The 60-minute concert will feature four pianists playing the rarely heard “Quatuor Concertant,” by Carl Czerny.

“There’s an incredible variety in this year’s programming,” Baryshnikov said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for making it happen.”

The Ringling International Arts Festival runs Oct. 11 to Oct. 16, at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. General tickets go on sale May 15. For more information, call 360-7399 or visit

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected]


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