Since its inaugural year in 2009, the Ringling International Arts Festival has never been one to cut any corners when it comes to style and pizzazz, and Wednesday’s RIAF Inspires Opening Night event had no trouble meeting the standards set by its forbearers: RIAF put on the Ritz to set the tone for what promises to be yet another unforgettable festival.
As the sun began to dip below the horizon at the Ringling estate, the fourth annual Ringling International Arts Festival celebrated its kickoff with a glamorous cocktail reception on the grounds of the historic Asolo Theatre, in front of which John Ringling’s classic Rolls Royce was parked to lend to the Gatsby-esque nature of the affair. Festival attendees arrived dressed to the nines and mingled over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to the refreshing melodies of live jazz while they awaited curtain time for the opening night performance.
The palpable excitement that buzzed in the air may have had something to do with the salubrious effect of those cocktails — but more likely, it stemmed from the anticipation building in the moments leading up to legendary dancer and RIAF programmer, Mikhail Baryshnikov, joining New York-based Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) on stage in the Mertz Theatre.
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