+ RIAF drama, cool encores, mistaken identities
Oh, how this year’s Ringling International Arts Festival delivered. From the second Asphalt Orchestra invaded the museum courtyard (and the personal space of Sarasota’s favorite glitterati) with its merry marching band of raucous horn players and drummers, we knew RIAF meant business.
Even the artists were blown away by the opening night fanfare.
Dancer and choreographer Stefanie Batten Bland, whose company of loose-limbed hoofers performed a contemporary dance piece about the movements of immigrants over bodies of water, was overheard exclaiming, “This is the first time I’ve seen fireworks for art.”
Welcome to Sarasota, Stefanie.
Speaking of Bland … apparently there’s a dancer in her troupe who bares a striking resemblance to me. While at the Meklit Hadero show Thursday night, I was mistaken not once, but three times for a dancer in Bland’s company.
When I approached the RIAF ticket counter, one staffer showered me with so many compliments on my dancing I was compelled to let the mix-up slide.
Doppelgänger aside, Hadero’s concert was a groovy, jazzy, acoustic delight. Hadero, whose lush voice has drawn comparisons to Norah Jones, performed tracks off her 2010 album “On a Day Like This,” in addition to a peppy cover of The Talking Heads’ “Naïve Melody” and a stirring encore that had the entire audience singing with her.
What else is there to know about the third annual RIAF?
Well, according to Michael Kohlmann, the festival’s guest artist manager, one artist was hauled off to the hospital with a curiously inflamed bug bite.
Kohlmann wouldn’t share the artist’s name. Suffice it to say, the swelling went down and the show went on.
+ Sarasota Ballet gets its pink on
The Sarasota Ballet is off to an exciting start this season.
The gang, who just returned to Sarasota after performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., will dance next week on hometown turf to benefit Key to the Cure.
For $25, you can catch the performance of an original ballet by principal dancer Ricardo Graziano. Set to music by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and featuring all-pink costumes, the piece will pay homage to Key to the Cure’s chief mission: raising funds for women’s cancer programs at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
The show is at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27, at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. For reservations, call 917-1286 or visit smhf.org.
+ Former dancer sells massive canvas
Former National Ballet of Cuba dancer Javier Dubrocq has finished his colossal “Legend of Sarasota” –– a 6-foot-by-9-foot narrative painting that he started in 2006.
Local ballerinas probably know Dubrocq for his moves in the rehearsal studio. The multi-talented artist (and father of three sons) is a private dance coach and a faculty member at the Sarasota Ballet School, along with his wife, Isabel.
“The Legend of Sarasota” –– Dubrocq’s largest painting ever –– depicts the story of Sarasota, beginning with the ill-fated romance of Hernando de Soto’s daughter, Sara, and her Indian brave paramour Chichi-Okobee.
According to local lore, when Sara de Soto contracted a deadly illness from Chichi-Okobee, she was buried in the body of water that now bears her name: Sarasota Bay.
“To me, it’s one of the most beautiful stories,” says Dubrocq, who recently sold the work to a private collector in Tampa. “I wanted to do the last image. When (Okobee) went to the bay, he brought 100 warriors to follow him. They jumped into the water and all died.”
After spending more than five years on one painting, what does Dubrocq hope to capture next?
“Ballet,” Dubrocq says. “I was in it, but I never painted it.”
“Trick or Tease II”: The gals at Black Diamond Burlesque will shake their tail feathers from 8 to 10 p.m. Oct. 31, at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. The troupe’s second Halloween show will include hosting antics by Beneva Fruitville, music by DJ Rus Deep and a dance party/costume contest from 6:30 to 8 p.m. A panel of celebrity judges will judge the costumes. I’m on the panel, so I use the word “celebrity” loosely. Come on down and show me what you’ve got. I’m giving bonus points to the women who dare to dress up as anything other than a sexy nurse, a sexy maid, a sexy pirate or a sexy cop. Tickets are $20. For more info, call 366-5454.
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