When it debuted in 2009, the Ringling International Arts Festival was announced as a biennial event. But the collaboration between Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art and
's Baryshnikov Arts Center proved so popular that the gathering has become an annual one, a getaway for arts lovers on the bayside grounds and in the stately spaces that are circus magnate John Ringling's cultural legacy to Florida.
Curated by dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov's namesake center, the festival showcases artists from the worlds of dance, theater, music and visual arts, top-tier contemporary talents from all parts of the globe. This year's festival, which runs each year in October, is as distinct as each of its predecessors, a bit smaller in scale and budget but with plenty of artistic variety.
The 2012 festival features critically acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group, the festival's marquee draw, which performed four pieces - "Grand Duo," "Canonic 3 / 4Studies," "Silhouettes" and the new "A Wooden Tree" - in the largest venue, the 500-seat Mertz Theatre. Indian Kuchipudi dancer Shantala Shivalingappa and the powerful vocal folk group Ensemble Basiani from the Republic of Georgia performed in the Historic Asolo Theater, a grand 1798 Italian theater reassembled inside the visitor's pavilion at the Ringling estate. Philadelphia's Obie Award-winning Pig Iron Theatre Company collaborated with Japanese director Toshiki Okada on "Minister of Mascots," a new play that will had performances in the intimate Cook Theatre.
Two pianists, Adam Tendler and Phyllis Chen, performed at James Turrell's Joseph's Coat, the work of art that is the museum's first-in-Florida Skyspace. Arts-themed movies about dancers Carmen de Lavellade and
-winning Russian poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and a dance film titled "Labyrinth Within" were a new element of the festival. And New Orleans'