Scenes of celebration and dance from RIAF 2014. Photo by Eddie Kirsch.
Scenes of celebration and dance from RIAF 2014. Photo by Eddie Kirsch.
Scenes of celebration and dance from RIAF 2014. Photo by Eddie Kirsch.
Scenes of celebration and dance from RIAF 2014. Photo by Eddie Kirsch.
Scenes of celebration and dance from RIAF 2014. Photo by Eddie Kirsch.
Scenes of celebration and dance from RIAF 2014. Photo by Eddie Kirsch.

RIAF International Arts Festival returns for seventh season

The Ringling International Arts Festival in its seventh season this fall will bring a collection of artists from around the globe to The Ringling Museum.

The Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF), entering its seventh season this fall, is poised to once again bring an eclectic collection of performing artists from across the globe to the Sarasota stage for four thrilling days of music, dance and theatre.

The annual festival, hosted by The Ringling, traditionally features a showcase of diverse performing artists from around the world—but RIAF 2015 features a somewhat more geographically-focused lineup than festivals of the past.

To herald the upcoming opening of the Center for Asian Art, Ringling will place the diverse cultures and contemporary arts of Asia in the limelight at this year's festival, with seven dynamic stage productions that hail from across the Asian continent and range in style from traditional 19th century Japanese puppet theatre to edgy, punk rock-inspired modern circus arts performed by Cambodian youth who were orphaned by civil war.

"This amazing lineup showcases the diversity of Asian art offerings and the incredible opportunity that The Ringling now has to display Asian art in many different forms," Steven High, executive director of The Ringling says. "This year's line-up is an exciting glimpse of The Ringling's future, which includes a focus on Asian art as we build towards the opening of the center in 2016."

In October (15-18), festival performers will take to the stages of the historic Asolo, Mertz, and Cook Theatres to present a showcase of traditional and contemporary dance, circus arts, theatre, music and experimental imagery from countries throughout Asia. The curation of RIAF 2015 was realized in partnership with Stanford Makishi, who—in his previous role as executive director of the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City—helped launch the festival in 2009.

Here's a preview of what to expect at RIAF 2015:

Tom Lee's "Shank's Mare"

New York City based designer, director and puppet artist, Tom Lee, will present "Shank's Mare," a performance that employs the traditional Kuruma Ningyo puppet theatre of Japan with video and live music. "Shank's Mare" explores the questions of life and death in the tale of two wandering travelers whose paths intersect in time and space.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15, 8 p.m. on Oct. 16, 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 18 in the Historic Asolo Theater.

Orkes Sinten Remem

Orkes Sinten Remem
Orkes Sinten Remem

Orkes Sinten Remem, led by Djaduk Ferianto, are a group of Indonesian musicians whose music is often described as "rowdy" and "crazy or mad"—but perhaps a little madness is what it takes to keep a 400+ year-old folk music tradition alive. Orkes Sinten Remen puts a progressive twist on traditional Indonesian folk music and stories, infusing modern genres such as jazz, reggae and samba into compositions that preserve tradition and illustrate the reality of Indonesian life through nostalgia and humor.

Performances will be at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 5 p.m. on Oct 18 in the Historic Asolo Theater.

Phare: The Cambodian Circus

Phare: The Cambodian Circus, is a performing arts group comprised of youth from the streets and orphanages of Cambodia, who received arts education from Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) Association. The PPS was founded by children who were orphaned by civil war, following the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Phare Cambodian Circus will present "Khmer Metal," an "edgy, progressive tale of nightlife, passion, heartbreak, hope and tears—performed with humor and humanity by talented young Cambodians using dance, circus arts and music that beats like your heart," at RIAF 2015.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2 p.m. on Oct. 16, 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 18 in the Mertz Theatre.

Tao Dance Theatre

Tao Dance Theatre
Tao Dance Theatre

Beijing-based Tao Dance Theatre is one of the premier modern dance companies in China and throughout the world, known for boldly stretching the boundaries of the physical human form through acrobatics, contortions and fluid, rippling movement.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 5 p.m. on Oct. 18 in the Mertz Theatre. Three solo performers will provide fresh perspective on performance through their original works in the Cook Theatre, TBA.

Ronnarong Khampha - "My Name is Ong"

Dancer and choreographer, Ronnarong Khampha, from the Lanna region of northern Thailand, creates his own performance style by blending traditional dances of Thailand with contemporary aesthetics. Khampa will perform "My Name is Ong," a selection of compelling solo performances, at RIAF 2015.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 17 in the Cook Theatre.

Peni Candra Rini

Peni Candra Rini
Peni Candra Rini

Peni Candra Rini, Indonesian composer, songwriter and singer, is hailed for her mastery of traditional Indonesian music and innovative creativity. Canda Rini interweaves music with movement and engaging imagery to evoke mystery in her alluring performances.

Performances will be at 2 p.m. on Oct. 16, 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 5 p.m. on Oct. 18 in the Cook Theatre.

Jen Shyu - "Solo Rites: Seven Breaths"

American-East Timorese-Taiwanese jazz artist, Jen Shyu, will perform "Solo Rites: Seven Breaths," a multidimensional musical experience that combines singing, movement, and acting into songs that the New York Times states, "could remind you of ancient court music or Joni Mitchell." The multi-faceted musician plays plays lutes, zithers, and percussion instruments in her lively performances.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Oct. 16, at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 18 in the Cook Theatre.

Opening Night Performances

Kick off the 7th annual Ringling International Arts Festival on October 15, with a choice from three simultaneous Opening Night performances (Tom Lee, Phare Cambodian Circus, or Ronnarong Khampha). Opening Night performances will be followed by a celebration in the Ringling Museum courtyard with hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine, soft drinks, cash bar and the annual RIAF fireworks display.

The Ringling International Arts Festival takes place October 15 - 18, 2015. To learn more about the festival or reserve tickets, visit RIAF 2015 Online.

Embracing our Differences - "We Won't Shut Up" by Judith Carlin.
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