+ Boogie Woogie Ballerinas
Sarasota Ballet’s “Company B” performance Nov. 16 made anyone nostalgic for the 1940s — even me, and I was born in the ’80s!
For a bunch of bunheads (a term principal dancer Sara Sardelli refers to as a dancer with a ballet focus), they sure fooled the audience with their boogie-woogie skills. “Company B” was the last set of the evening and a premiere for Sarasota Ballet. It’s a modern piece, with humorous and poignant choreography set to the boogie-woogie harmonies of The Andrews Sisters — and it just goes to show that they sure don’t make them like The Andrews Sisters anymore! Some of the choreography was taken straight out of the 1940s and paired with the costumes on stage — it was like stepping into a time machine.
Reactions to the high-spirited performance put everyone in a great mood. As two couples were walking out together, one of the women said to the other, “Remember when we used to jitterbug?” One man was jubilantly whistling “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” on the way out of the theater, and I’m sure it wasn’t because he had too many “Rum and Coca-Colas.”
+ Remembering Jay B. Starker
Jay B. Starker planted deep roots within the arts community, and some people knew him as a Sarasota icon. He was a bohemian Jack-of-all-trades and, in addition to playing more than 30 instruments, he will be remembered as a steel drummer donning a beret; a leather worker known for “Starker” sandals; a ceramist; a silver and goldsmith; a painter; a photographer; and he owned his own jewelry store on St. Armands Circle.
Starker died July 26, but from 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 2, his friends will host a tribute in his honor at Southgate Community Center, 3145 South Gate Circle. It will feature performances by a group Starker founded: The Gathering of Exiles.
+ Art meets education
Collaborative arts can be a beautiful thing, especially when the artists are students of varying abilities. “The Friendship Bridge” was a project funded by a Very Special Arts (VSA) MetLife grant to integrate students. Part of the grant allowed The Van Wezel to contract artist Brenda Smoak to work with Oak Park and Lakeview elementary schools on the outdoor installation.
It features two waterfalls and a bridge built by the students. Teachers taught lessons relevant to the project, such as water flow and evaporation; they used mathematics to plan for the bridge. Now, the students are creating an oasis complete with benches and a garden.
At 10 a.m. Dec. 6, there will be a ribbon cutting on the bridge that joins the campuses at Oak Park School, 7285 Proctor Road, so the public can see the new installation.
+ Attention Young Dancers:
The third annual Carreño Dance Festival Summer Intensive has been set for July 29 to Aug. 17, 2013. It’s a cool opportunity for talented young dancers to learn from dance masters and even share the stage with them.
It’s an impressive faculty, including Yuri Fateev, director of Marlinsky Ballet, and Julie Kent, American Ballet Theatre principal. Auditions are held around the country, but area dancers can audition in Sarasota. Complete details are listed at carrenodancefestival.com.
Bradenton Blues Festival:
Attend the first Bradenton Blues Festival featuring Ruthie Foster, Ben Prestage, Steve Arvey Horn Band and more regional blues acts from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. It takes place at the redeveloped Riverwalk area, 101 Waterfront Drive, Bradenton. Tickets are $30. Visit bradentonbluesfestival.org for more information.
“MID-LIFE! The Crisis Musical”: Opens Friday, Nov. 30, at Venice Theatre, 140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice. It’s a musical comedy that celebrates the mid-life: heart palpation, constipation, hyper-ventilation, sudden binges, sudden purges and any mal-destructive urges. Tickets $13 to $28. Visit venicestage.com or call 488-1115 for more information.
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Lakewood Ranch Town Hall’s Finance Director Steve Zielinski is the community’s money man, and he’s got the cufflinks to prove it.
Observer on the hunt for displays
We’re making our list of the best holiday lights displays in East County and checking it twice.