As soon as you took your seat, several minutes before the show was set to start, you could sense something special was coming up.
Rocio Molina had taken the stage in the Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts Wednesday night even before the audience came in. She posed in silence, dressed in black under a white light on a black stage, her back curved and turned toward the audience. She held in her hand a rope tied to a wine bottle standing on the floor.
After many minutes, house lights came down and Molina, one of Spain's most celebrated dancers, moved slowly around the stage, dragging the bottle, which scraped along with sounds electronically amplified to swell through the room.
Molina is a flamenco dancer and every instant of her 70-minute performance was steeped in the vocabulary and traditions of the style. But she has found a way to fuse jazz and modern elements into her flamenco without diluting the es
sence of the form.
The mesmerizing performance titled "Danzaora y Vinatica" in which Molina, joined on stage by a fabulous guitarist, singer and percussionist, guided the audience through an often humorous, often exciting and always inspirational journey. ("Danzaorra" is a word coined by a Spanish journalist to describe Molina because no existing word adequately captured her art.)
It was the opening night performance at the fifth annual Ringling international Arts Festival, which continues through Saturday.
The small crowd for the opening night performance -- the Mertz was less than half-full, with lots of people in elegant dress and lots of others, no doubt artists who will be performing in other shows, in colorful quirky casual wear -- but the ovation for Molina was boisterous and extended.
Molina's three performances are done, but there's still plenty of art in the remaining days. Among the highlights are Tere O'Connor Dance, one of the finest and most distinctive modern dance companies in the United States; the Belarus Free Theatre performance piece called "Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker," which the New York Times called "beautiful and brutal;" Iran's Leev Theater Group with "Hamlet: Prince of Grief," a sort of prequel to the Shakespeare play; and Stephen Prutsman and the Aeolus Quartet performing a new score written by Prutsman to accompany Buster Keaton's acclaimed silent comedy "Sherlock Jr."
The remaining events in this year's Ringling International Arts Festival:
1 p.m. Oct. 11: "Hamlet, Prince of Grief," Leev Theater Group.
5 p.m. Oct. 11, "Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker," Belarus Free Theatre; Stephen Prutsman and the Aeolus Quartet, "Sherlock Jr."; Jazz Sunsets by the Bay.
9 p.m. Oct. 11: Tere O'Connor Dance; "Hamlet, Prince of Grief," Leev Theater Group; Stephen Prutsman and the Aeolus Quartet, "Sherlock Jr."1 p.m. Oct. 12: Tere O'Connor Dance; "Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker," Belarus Free Theatre.
5 p.m. Oct 12: Stephen Prutsman and the Aeolus Quartet, "Sherlock Jr."
6:30 p.m. Oct 12: Closing Night Party, 6:30 p.m.
For information call 941-359-5700 or go toringling.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.