Ringling International Arts Festival Leaves Festival-Goers
Energized and Ready for the Next One
Sarasota, FL, October 14, 2009 – The inaugural Ringling International Arts Festival came to a close Sunday, October 11, 2009. The five-day arts Festival, a partnership between New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida kicked-off the Florida Gulf Coast 2009-10 cultural season with 36 performances in dance, theater and music, successfully rallying the community around the area’s arts and cultural treasures and leaving them eager for the next Festival in 2011.
"The Festival is a great example of the incredible arts and culture energy in Sarasota," said Dwight Currie, Associate Director of Programming at the Ringling Museum. "The herculean efforts by the staff, the awe and delight of the festival-goers, the artists' excitement and enthusiasm for being at the Festival all make this event even more remarkable."
Eighty-four artists from the United States, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Israel, Canada and Australia engaged audiences with 8 core performances which included two U.S. premieres and three world premieres, at the Historic Asolo Theater, the Mertz Theatre and Cook Theatre. The festival garnered strong attendance and critical acclaim. Twenty-five of the 36 performances were sold out during the five-day event. Ticket sales exceeded 92% of the 11,975 available seats. Festival patrons from 25 states joined Sarasota and Manatee county residents to experience the diversity of performances.
The Festival opened on October 7 with a celebratory reception in the Museum of Art Courtyard where Governor Charlie Crist reaffirmed his commitment to cultural arts in the state of Florida. A remarkable fireworks display awed the guests, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, who then headed to the Mertz Theatre for a sold-out concert by the Florida State University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by celebrated Atlanta Symphony music director Robert Spano and featuring New
York-based pianist Pedja Muzijevic, in a program of Reich and Beethoven.
Highlights of the Festival core performances included:
Post-modern cabaret diva Meow Meow descended on the Festival with Beyond Glamour:
The Absinthe Tour. Accompanied by pianist Lance Horne and cellist Yair Evnine, Meow
Meow embarked on a wild journey of obsessive love songs, karaoke splendor, and gorgeous cabaret ditties.
Acclaimed experimental theater company Elevator Repair Service (ERS) presented a workshop premiere of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises First Part was commissioned by the Festival – a continuation of their compelling experiments in literary adaptation.
Festival-goers flocked to get tickets to see one of Spain's leading flamenco virtuosos, María Pagés. Pagés presented her latest work Flamenco y Poesía. Performed by her company of nine dancers and musicians, Flamenco y Poesía translated the cadences of poetry into dance, revealing a shared language between the words of José Saramago and Federico Garcia de Lorca and the rhythms
of the human body.
Legendary director Peter Brook presented the U.S. premiere of his new production Love is my sin. Bringing Shakespeare’s sonnets to life, Love is my sin revealed Shakespeare’s intimate diaries: a key to his passions and jealousies, and his private questions about time, aging, and death. Love is my sin featured Michael Pennington and Natasha Parry.
Following highly praised performances of her debut play at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ella Hickson brought this award-winning work, Eight, to the Festival. Eight delivered a rich portrait of modern Britain through a collection of incisive monologues from characters ranging from a single working mother to a young Iraq war veteran.
Aszure Barton & Artists and OtherShore shared a program of contemporary dance. Drawing from classical ballet and contemporary dance vocabularies, Aszure Barton presented a world premiere of Busk. OtherShore presented The Snow Falls in the Winter, a work created by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar of Big Dance Theater.
Israeli-born choreographer Deganit Shemy brought her new work Arena, which played with space and calculated time, creating an emotionally-charged world that blurred the lines between the real and the imagined. The evening-length version of Arena was commissioned by the Festival.
Two programs of chamber concerts showcased masterworks from Debussy, Mendelssohn and Dvořák alongside the world premiere of a work by American composer Mason Bates. The concerts featured an ensemble of internationally renowned musicians, including pianist
Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Jennifer Frautschi, cellist Edward Arron, and horn player
The beginning of a "fringe" festival took place on the beautiful grounds and gardens of the Ringling Estate in the Festival Café. Eleven performances by emerging talent from Florida State University and Sarasota, along with a series of discussions with guest artists welcomed nearly 200 people to each of the hour-long programs under an 200-seat, air-conditioned performance/dining pavilion erected especially for festival’s inaugural year.
The Asian Family FunFest held on Saturday, October 10, welcomed children 17 and under for free to a journey through Asia held in the Museum of Art Courtyard. Centered around the exhibition Paths to Paradise: The World of Buddhism (August 22 – November 15, 2009) the FunFest included entertainment from the Wu Yan Dong Chinese Acrobats, Taiko drummers and Thai dancers. Families explored Asian countries with passport booklets and received stamps from Asian countries represented in tents throughout the Courtyard. Art activities and games were plentiful for children including kite making, origami, storytelling and dress-up.
For media requests, please contact Lynn Hobeck Bates at 941.359.5700 Ext. 2803.
The Ringling International Arts Festival gratefully acknowledges the following businesses and individuals who have made generous donations to the Festival's continued success: Sarasota County Convention and Visitors Bureau; SNN6; Ovation TV; GravityFree; Bon Eau Foundation; Juno & Jove, Inc. and Probo Productions; Marriott Courtyard/Springhill Suites/Residence Inn; Sarasota Magazine; SRQ Media Group; the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Florida Lottery; Hyatt Place; WUSF; Sign Zoo; Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Inc; Willis A. Smith Construction Inc.; Michael Saunders & Company; Bradenton Herald; Sarasota Herald Tribune; the Observer Group; Brighthouse Network; Comcast; Scene Magazine; WEDU; and McKibbon Group.
The Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) opened its doors in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen in November 2005. BAC serves as a creative laboratory, meeting place, and performance space for a vibrant community of artists from around the world. BAC is also dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at low or no cost to ticket buyers. The organization recently purchased a 299-seat theater in the performing arts complex, which will undergo renovation in 2009 to be transformed into the state of the art Jerome Robbins Theater. Scheduled to open in 2010, the theater will serve as an organic extension of the existing center, featuring multidisciplinary work, emerging talent, and international artists, and including artist-centered activity that fosters creative exploration. For more information about the Baryshnikov Arts Center, please visit: www.bacnyc.org.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Florida State University, is one of the largest museum/university campuses in the nation. It preserves the legacy of John and Mable Ringling by educating and enabling a large and diverse audience to experience and take delight in a world-renowned collection of fine art; Cà d’Zan, the Ringling historic mansion; the Circus Museums; the Historic Asolo Theater; as well as the historic architecture, courtyard, gardens and grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay on Florida’s gulf coast. For more information about the Ringling Museum of Art, please visit: www.ringling.org.
Artist biographies and digital images are available on request.