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Arts / Culture

Ringling International Arts Fest Showcases Asian Performers

You might not want to ask The Ringling International Arts Festival Curator Dwight Currie how many mountains he had to move to make this year's RIAF happen.  This year, ahead of the Ringling's opening of its Asian Arts and Cultural Center, the focus of the festival is Asian artists.

"Because of the artists we select, they are not always on tour. But in the case of Tao Dance Theater... they will come to us in the middle of a four-continent, I think 14 nation, 20-city tour. So they're out there, they're on the road, but when travel problems present themselves, with issues with visas, and schedules and documentation, sometimes it takes a little time to find out where they are." 

Phare, the Cambodian Circus will make its U.S. debut and have its only performance in the country at the Ringling Festival, which gets underway Thursday, Oct. 15th. And Tom Lee's Shank's Mare, which is having its previews at RIAF, will have its world premiere at La Mama in New York next month. 

Lee was born in Korea, and was trained in a form of Japanese puppetry called kuruma ningyo, or "cart puppetry." Currie says, "The style of puppetry that is used in Tom Lee's production of Shank's Mare is being practiced now by the fifth generation of a family of Japanese master puppeteers." That family worked with Lee to create Shank's Mare, the story of two wandering travelers who cross each other's paths.

Other performances include Jen Shyu's Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, Indonesian singer and traditional musician Pena Candra Rini, Orkes Sinten Remen, musicians from Indonesia, whom Currie says, "show the sheer joy of performing." Dancer Ronnarong Kampha will perform traditional Thai ritual dances, and "My Name is Ong." 

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