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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020 1 year ago

Looking ahead at Sarasota's arts and entertainment in 2020

From tried and true to totally new, or maybe it’s just new to you, this year’s entertainment options go on as far as the eye can see. Here are just a few.
by: Klint Lowry Arts + Entertainment Editor

Art Battle Sarasota

(Courtesy Sarasota Arts and Cultural Alliance) Art Battle returns to Sarasota Jan. 25, to be followed by the state finals in March.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 25

Where: Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $25

Info: Call 365-5118

Last year, Art Battle laid siege on Sarasota, and the speed-painting competition made its mark, so much so that organizers are bringing it back, only bigger.

This year, there will be two area Art Battles. The first will be waged Jan. 24 at the Venice Art Center, followed the next day with a second battle at Art Center Sarasota.

For those unfamiliar, Art Battle turns painting into a spectator sport. Artists compete in three rounds, in each round going from blank canvas to finished composition in 20 minutes.

The winners, chosen by audience vote, will move to the state championship — and here’s the big news — right back here in Sarasota on March 14 at Selby Library.

Competitors can still sign up at


(Photo: Sorcha Augustine) Sarasota Contemporary Dance will move to the direction of four choreographers in its program "Dance Makers."

'Dance Makers'

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30-Feb.1, 2 p.m Feb. 2

Where: FSU Center for the Performing Arts, James B. Cook Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $10-$45

Info: Call 359-0099

The one thing you can always expect from Sarasota Contemporary Dance is something different every time, and the direction of each series is usually a reflection of the musician or guest choreographer they are working with.

SCD’s 14th season is titled “Growing Larger,” and for the third series of the season, “Dance Makers,” the variety increases exponentially as they will perform dance pieces by four nationally acclaimed contemporary choreographers: Terrence Henderson, Bliss Kohlmyer, Maria Bauman-Morales and Adele Myers. The works were chosen not only to put the company’s strengths on display but to present a program that will appeal to a multigenerational, multicultural audience.


(File photo) Sarasota Opera staged a production of 'La Wally' in 1989.

'La Wally'

When: March 10-22

Where: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave.

Tickets: From $19

Info: Call 328-1300.

The Sarasota Opera’s season is filled with comfortably familiar names: “La Bohème,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “La Wally” — wait, La who?

Making its debut in 1892, “La Wally” is the fifth and final opera from composer Alfredo Catalani. It is considered a rare example of a successful operatic expression of scapigliatura, Italy’s equivalent of France’s bohemian movement, embracing direct, highly-realistic forms of artistic expression.

“La Wally” is set in Austria, about a free-spirited girl in a doomed romance. One of the main reasons the opera is rarely staged is the climactic scene, which calls for La Wally to throw herself from the top of a mountain.

Sarasota Opera staged “La Wally” once before, in 1989, and they’ve decided it’s time to make the ascent again.


(Photo: Cliff Roles) The 10th edition of Cirque des Voix is titled "Decade of Wonder."

Cirque des Voix

When: March 20-22

Where: Ulla Searing Big Top, Nathan Benderson Park,140 University Town Center Drive

Tickets: $25-$55

Info: Call 355-9805.

It’s hard to go a day in Sarasota without some whisper of a reminder of the city’s circus heritage. But once a year, the spirit of the big top comes to life loud and clear and in spectacular fashion, with the Cirque des Voix.

The show brings together world-class performers from the Circus Arts Conservatory, along with 100-plus voices from Key Chorale. Add to that the 40-piece Cirque Orchestra and you have a dynamic presentation of sight and sound.

This is the 10th anniversary Cirque des Voix, and the show is being billed “Decade of Wonder” and will feature acts choreographed to some of the most memorable film scores ever written.


Courtesy: Sarasota Orchestra

Beethoven's 'Eroica'

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 6

Where: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N.Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $25-$75

Info: Call 953-3434.

2020 marks the 250th birthday of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and the Sarasota Orchestra is celebrating with a two-series program called “Discover Beethoven” designed to add a little education to the entertainment.

The first will be “Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’.” With the orchestra providing musical examples, Sarasota Orchestra Artistic Advisor Jeffrey Kahane will present insights about Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, considered groundbreaking in its day, and will put the significance of Beethoven’s “heroic" symphony into 21st-century context.

Afterward, the symphony will put it all into context with a performance of the full symphony.

The two-part Beethoven celebration concludes May 2 and 3 with “Discover Beethoven’s Seventh.

And even though it isn’t officially part of program, in between, the symphony will  present “Beethoven to Bartok” March 12-15.


Courtesy Image

'The Lifespan of a Fact'

When: Jan. 22 to March 19

Where: Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $30.87-$87

Info: Call 351-8000.

This 2018 Broadway comedy isn’t just “ripped from the headlines,” it’s about the headlines, the stories behind them and ever-more urgent debate about truth and the modern news media: Where is the line between compelling storytelling and blurring of facts, and who gets to draw that line?

The play is based on a real-life conflict that occurred between a star writer and a diligent fact-checker over a magazine essay and escalated into a philosophical battle over which matters more, style or substance.

It all comes down to one question that has to be asked on many levels: What is the truth?


(Courtesy The Ringling) "Windscape," (1958), from Syd Solomon's Great Barrier Reef series.

'Syd Soloman, Concealed and Revealed'

When: Through April 26

Where: The Ringling Museum of Art, Searing Galleries, 5401 Bay Shore Road

Tickets: Free with museum admission

Info: Call 358-3180.

Syd Solomon’s place among the pantheon of locally based artists was secured in 1962, when his work became the first contemporary art to be collected by the Ringling.

Solomon described his style as “abstract impressionism,” and this exhibition examines the various influences and experiences that shaped that style: as a camouflage designer during World War II and as a local commercial graphic designer, as well as his fascination with the aquatic environment during his many years as a Sarasota resident.

The exhibition includes selections of his works from both the Ringling collection as well as private collections along with never-before-displayed items from the Solomon Archive.


(Courtesy: Sarasota Ballet) Sarasota Ballet will present Sir Frederick Ashton's "lost" ballet, "Dante Sonata" as part of its "Beyond Words" series.

'Dante Sonata'

When: April 24 and 25

Where: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave.

Tickets: $30-$115

Info: Call 359-0099.

Over the years, Sarasota Ballet has performed more than two dozen of Sir Frederick Ashton’s ballets, but the affinity for Ashton will be taken to a whole new level with series “Beyond Words,” which will include Ashton’s “lost” work, “Dante Sonata.” Based loosely on Dante’s “Inferno,” and written during the early days of World War II, “Dante Sonata” is unusually dark for Ashton and culminates in a battle between the forces of light and darkness — a battle that ends with no clear outcome. The ballet went unperformed for 50 years until the Birmingham Royal Ballet revived it in 2000. 

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