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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 3 years ago

RIAF 2017 defies expectations

Local and international performers take audiences out of their comfort zone at The Ringling’s ninth annual arts festival.
by: Marty Fugate Contributor

The ninth annual Ringling International Arts Festival challenges audiences to “explore the unexpected and expect the unexplored.” Bold statement, with bold talent to back it up. Their performances are hilarious, heartbreaking, brainy, highbrow, lowbrow, intimate and larger-than-life. Expect a gamut of art forms, including music, dance, theater, acrobatics, and animation—and never the same experience twice. This year’s festival is also truly a Ringling festival. The artful celebration unfolds entirely on The Ringling campus. Use this guide to help you decide what to attend:



eVenti Verticale

“WANTED” by eVenti Verticali will be performed Oct. 18-20. Courtesy photo

eVenti Verticale’s duo of acrobat performers want you to keep looking up. To that end, they’ll enact the desperate flight of two wanted men (probably cat burglars) on a massive, three-story rig in the museum’s west courtyard. This merry chase will proceed against the backdrop of an 8-bit video game universe projected on a massive screen. Why? Well, aside from a flashy demonstration of daring dexterity, there’s no big social commentary or philosophical point. The goofy, improbable fun is the point. That, and a side order of nostalgia for the angular era of “Mario Brothers,” “Tetris” and “Donkey Kong.” Speaking of which, they’ll have playable video games on site during their performance for the extravagant First Night Party. No tokens required.


When: 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 19-20

Where: West Courtyard

Tickets: $100 first night, $35 for other performances


‘Happy Hour’

Monica Bill Barnes & Company

"Happy Hour" will be performed Oct. 19-21. Courtesy photo.

This dance troupe has a mission in life. They bring dance “where it doesn’t belong.” Case in point: their “Happy Hour” performance at RIAF. The scene, a low-rent, after-hours office party, complete with cocktails in red plastic cups and bags of chips. In the spirit of the wild and crazy guys of “Saturday Night Live,” two interlopers will crash the party. Hilarity will ensue. That, and amazingly inventive expressions of the possibilities of movement. 


When: 5 p.m. Oct. 19, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 20, and 5 p.m. Oct. 21

Where: Circus Museum Backyard


‘Portraits in Motion’

Volker Gerling

Volker Gerling will perform “Portraits in Motion” on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. Courtesy photo

Flipbooks. Put a series of gradually changing pictures in a book. Flip through the pages, and the pictures seem to move. For many, it’s their first and only experience of creating an animated movie. Volker Gerling has made an artistic career out of it. The animator/storyteller has traveled thousands of miles through Germany creating photographic flipbooks of the people he meets. During his RIAF performance, he’ll flip through these “portraits in motion” and project the results on a big screen. As the scores of still photographs come alive, he’ll tell fascinating tales about the people behind the flickering images. The result is a deeply personal, endlessly fascinating encounter with the human family.


When: 5 p.m. Oct. 19 and 2 p.m. Oct. 20

Where: Historic Asolo Theater


‘White Rabbit Red Rabbit’

Nassim Soleimanpour

"White Rabbit Red Rabbit" will be performed Oct. 19-21. Courtesy photo

This Iranian playwright can’t leave his country, but his plays can. This one-man play did, and has been performed to critical acclaim worldwide. Apart from that, we can say little. There’s a new actor every night, doing a cold reading for each performance. The playwright forbids the actors to read or research the play beforehand. In the RIAF spirit of risk-taking, he urges audiences to approach his work with blissful ignorance as well. 


When: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 19, 2 p.m. Oct. 20-21

Where: Circus Museum Backyard



Drummer George Nickson and violinist Samantha Bennett of EnsemblenewSRQ will perform two programs at RIAF Oct. 19-21. Courtesy photo

Showcasing the talents of drummer George Nickson and violinist Samantha Bennett, this edgy Sarasota-based music ensemble will perform in two separate programs. Their first will showcase compositions by John Luther Adams. Their follow-up performance will feature the “Sequenzas” of Luciano Berio. 


When: 5 p.m. Oct. 19-20 for Program I; 2 and 5 p.m. Oct. 20-21 for Program II.

Where: Turrell Skyspace


‘Ing an Die’

James McGinn

Local choreographer James McGinn’s “Ing an Die” will be performed Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 at Historic Asolo Theater. Courtesy photo

Choreographer James McGinn was born in Sarasota. This talented native returns from Belgium to tell a wordless, mercurial, hypnotic love story in the shadow of the apocalypse. He takes on the schizoid, binary code of 21st-century life — the struggles of masculine vs. feminine, organic vs. synthetic, traditional vs. modern. The result is … well, expect the unexpected. 


When: 8 p.m. Oct. 19 and 5 p.m. Oct. 20-21

Where: Historic Asolo Theater



Nobuntu will perform in its first American tour Oct. 19-21 at Historic Asolo Theater.

Direct from Zimbabwe in their first American tour, this energetic, a capella female quintet shakes the rafters with a mix of traditional Zimbabwean songs, Afro jazz and gospel. While the power is in their voices, there’s some mild percussion and traditional Zimbabwean instruments playing respectfully in the background. 


When: 2 p.m. Oct 19, 8 p.m. Oct 20 and 2 p.m. Oct 21

Where: Historic Asolo Theater

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