The fourth annual Ringling International Arts Festival returns to Sarasota this week to again showcase world-class dancers, actors, musicians and visual artists.
A collaboration between the Ringling Museum of Art and the Baryshnikov Center in Manhattan, it's curated by dance great Mikhail Baryshnikov, who will be back performing at the festival in the main Mertz Theatre.
He's part of Mark Morris' newest work, "A Wooden Tree." Set to music and words by Scottish artist and humorist Ivor Cutler, it will make its East Coast debut at the festival, which runs Wednesday through Saturday on the luxurious estate left by circus king John Ringling.
After only attending last year, Baryshnikov's appearance this week marks a return engagement to performing and collaborating at the festival. In 2010, RIAF commissioned and presented three sold-out performances of "Solos with Mikhail Baryshnikov and David Neumann."
The critically acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group's performances at the Ringling International Arts Festival are Wednesday event "RIAF Inspires Opening Night" ($500 a person includes reception, performance and formal dinner in the Museum of Art Galleries), as well as performances Thursday through Sunday.
In addition, this year's RIAF features stage performances by Indian dancer Shantala Shivalingappa, the vocal folk group Ensemble Basiani from the Republic of Georgia, Philadelphia's Obie Award-winning Pig Iron Theatre Company as well as pianists Adam Tendler and Phyllis Chen performing at James Turrell's Joseph's Coat, the first Skyspace in Florida.
There will also be the festival's first film series with screenings of "Carmen and Geoffrey," directed by Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob; "Joseph Brodsky: In the Prison of Latitudes," directed by Jan Andrews; and a double bill, "Labyrinth Within," directed by Pontus Lidberg, followed by "Park Avenue Armory Event," by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
The RIAF Closing Night Party should appeal to music lovers, party people and foodies alike with an authentic New Orleans experience from 6:30 to 11 p.m. on Saturday.
Held in the courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art, the finale features a performance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the internationally-touring Big Easy jazz-funk machine that first gained fame three decades ago for headlining a private party for The Rolling Stones.
There will also be a fireworks display, plenty of Crescent City cuisine and the event's specialty cocktail, Hurricane, is the dangerously sweet signature drink of New Orleans.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.
If you go
What: 2012 Ringling International Arts Festival
Where: Ringling Museum of Art, Historic Asolo Theater, Mertz Theatre and Cook Theatre, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota.When: Mark Morris Dance Group, 5 p.m. Oct 11, 8 p.m. Oct. 12, 2 p.m. Oct 13; dancer Shantala Shivalingappa, 8 p.m. Oct. 11, 5 p.m. Oct. 12-13; Pig Iron Theatre Company, 8 p.m. Oct. 11, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 12, 5 p.m. Oct. 13; Ensemble Basiani, 5 p.m. Oct. 11, 8 p.m. Oct. 12, 2 p.m. Oct. 13; pianist Adam Tendler, 8 p.m. Oct. 11; pianist Phyllis Chen, 8 p.m. Oct. 12; film festival featuring 'Carmen and Geoffrey' at 2 p.m. Oct. 11, 'Joseph Brodsky: In the Prison of Latitudes' at 2 p.m. Oct. 12, 'Labyrinth Within' at 5 p.m. Oct. 13; Dirty Dozen Brass Band, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13.
Tickets: $10-$50 for individual tickets (except opening and closing events); $370 for tickets to all shows.
Information: 941-360-7399 or www.ringlingartsfestival.org.