Arts take center stage at 'Ovation' in Lakewood Ranch

ejohnson@bradenton.comFebruary 2, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Arts were front and center Saturday on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch.

Painters, dancers, martial artists, vocalists and other performers lined the street and took to one of three stages set up at the sixth annual Ovation event.

"When we first started we had one stage," said Rachel Gray, event coordinator. "In the third year we had two stages. This year we added a third stage. We've seen a growth in the number of participation."

Approximately 30 nonprofit organizations, most of which represented visual and performance arts, had information booths.

"It's a way for them to get in front of a crowd they wouldn't normally reach," Gray said. "Patrons who don't know what they like can get a sample without having to go."

Gray anticipated 2,500 people would attend the 4-hour event.

"It gets people on the street that aren't patrons who would normally come to Lakewood Ranch," Gray said, adding that the event benefits businesses along Main Street.

About 30 students from the International Thespian Society Troupe 6020 at Lakewood Ranch High School performed dance, musical and dramatic numbers.

"We love to come out and share with the community," said Roxane

Caravan, director of the school's theater department, who has brought the students to Ovation for five years.

"It's another performance opportunity for them."

Students were collecting donations for their upcoming five-day trip to the state drama festival.

"Our students qualified for multiple performances," Caravan said. "But we're always fundraising."

Students were also promoting their final performance of "The Drowsy Chaperone" hours before taking the stage.

"We want people to fill our seats," said junior Joseph Grosso, club president. "We put on top-notch productions."

While ballet dancersgraced a stage and a folkartist sang from another,members of the regional Women ContemporaryArtists group provideddemonstrations in water colors, painting and sculpture.

"We have fun doing it and being around other arts," said Genevieve Perkins, past president.

"I jumped on the opportunity three years ago. Everybody I got to come and help out loved it and are still here."

The organization has more than 130 members who have monthly critiques, regular meetings and shows.

Paintings, jewelry and other items were for sale at Ovation.

"It's a way to gain more membership and promote ourselves as artists. The last few years our numbers have grown like crazy."

A glance at the bustling street revealed a variety of people representing all ages and talents from little girls in tutus to older men with guitars.

"We just love being around the other arts," Perkins said.

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-747-7041.

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