Ringling International Arts festival opens in Sarasota

Eighth Blackbird is a Grammy-winning chamber ensemble.
Eighth Blackbird is a Grammy-winning chamber ensemble. PROVIDED PHOTO

Dwight Currie, who selects the artists for the Ringling International Arts Festival every year, said he’s prepared for some criticism of his choices for this year. Since the emphasis is on high-energy, celebratory performing artists, rather then cerebral or confrontational acts, some people may consider this year’s festival “lightweight,” Currie said.

But Currie, the curator of performances for the Ringling, says he’s tremendously proud of the lineup for this year’s festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at locations around the Ringling campus. The artists at this year’s RIAF are some of the best in the world, on a par with those at previous years’ festivals, he said. But their emphasis is on lively and entertaining performance.

As always, most of the performances are about an hour to 75 minutes long, and they’re scheduled so festival-goers can see several acts each day, and see all the performances within a couple of days.

This year’s artists are Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc.; Gravity & Other Myths; Eighth Blackbird; Thaddeus Phillips; Circo Aereo & Thomas Monckton; Matt Haimovitz; and LMnO3.

The Elkins group has been at RIAF before. In 2011, the company performed “Fraulein Maria” at RIAF. This time, Elkins et al offer two compelling expressions of flirtation, romance, jealousy and betrayal: the comic “Hapless Bizarre” and “Mo(or)town/Redux,” a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Othello” set to a Motown score.

Details: Oct. 13-16, The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Various times. Tickets to all performances are $30-$35, and $27-$31.50 for Ringling members. Opening celebration on Oct. 13 is $80 general, $72 for members. 941-359-5700, ringling.org.

Marty Clear: 941-708-7919, @martinclear