Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alliance for the Arts Presents Taste of the Arts

Southwest Florida is full of cultural surprises. There are so many offerings in Fort Myers' Lee County that the Alliance for the Arts hosts an annual "Taste of the Arts" where culture vultures can experience a sampling of music, theater and dance performances put on by local arts groups. The event coincided with a visit from my law school friends Althea and Danita, so I took the opportunity to give them a sense of what the area offers (with the bonus of having the chance to hang out with my Punta Gorda gal pals Dorrit and Stephanie).
It took us a bit of time to get our bearings since there was so much to absorb when you first entered the gate. In addition to the performances, several local dining establishments and catering companies provided sustenance for participants, with Norman Love's exquisite chocolates being the hands down favorite.

Once we'd sampled the food and beveraged up, we set about figuring out our plan of attack. There were three venues to choose from--an outdoor tent, the indoor stage at Fould's Theater and the indoor classroom--with different performances more or less on the half hour at each location. While not all of the performances were to my taste, I came away with a greater appreciation of the scope of options available to arts lovers in Southwest Florida.

On the music front we saw the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers, both of which had participated in Mozart's Requiem put on a couple of weeks ago by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. In fact, the conductor of the Symphonic Mastersingers commented on how much fun it had been to perform with the CSO, saying, "Those people love their orchestra!"

On the theater front, we took in the Theatre Conspiracy's performance of Samuel Beckett's "Act Without Words I." I saw Baryshnikov perform this short play with its dangling water and scissors and boxes at Classic Stage Company in New York in 2007 and hated it then. Not surprisingly, I didn't enjoy Theatre Conspiracy's performance either, and left wondering why the company chose this as its selection. (As an aside, I saw Theatre Conspiracy's performance of See How They Run last spring and it was thoroughly enjoyable.) Later in the afternoon, we saw a reading from Florida Repertory Theatre's upcoming production of Tru, and it was terrific.

On the dance front, we enjoyed the performance put on by the Dance Alliance, a "dance collaborative" that makes its home at the Alliance for the Arts. The Dance Alliance is different from many dance companies because its members have different dance backgrounds--some are classically trained while others have a more contemporary bent. I loved their modern piece entitled, "Inspired," which was performed in bright skirts to a song I might hear on the radio if I listened more frequently. (In fact, the piece inspired me to want to dance until I flashed back on the dance classes my friend Louise and I ridiculously decided to take when we were in high school, which is a story for another day.)

All in all, it was a fun afternoon, and my 2012 calendar is rapidly filling up with offerings from the groups who piqued our "taste buds" with previews from their upcoming seasons. And with the 2-for-1 coupons that we got in our goodie bags, we can introduce more of our Punta Gorda friends to dance, theater and music performances in nearby Lee County. I can't wait!

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