Tag Archives: united arts

Orlando Flash Mob, Flash Opera, and Now Flash Chorus

It’s happened again… another flash!  The Orlando International Airport was serenaded yesterday by a flash chorus… we love this rash of flashes lately!

Word has it that this was coordinated by United Arts of Central Florida with the airport security and management, and was directed by Rollins College’s John Sinclair. We love the idea of bringing a bit of cheer to weary holiday travelers.  Nobody does that better than Central Florida, eh?

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Filed under Fun, Orlando, The Arts

Central Florida is LivingStrong!

Congratulations to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando for being named the recipient of not just one, but two LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project awards! These awards will bring cancer support programs to patients in Central Florida, and are funded by LIVESTRONG, the organization founded by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

I have long been a fan of Lance Armstrong, and indeed, one of my very first blog posts was about Lance returning to ride in the Tour de France just after a short retirement.

So, when I heard that Central Florida was in the running for one of his great programs, I Facebooked, tweeted, and blogged to get people to vote. I am so proud it paid off, as I feel it will be a true benefit to cancer patients as well as local artists. (FYI: Over a two-week period, more than 260,000 votes were cast and M. D. Anderson – Orlando was among the finalists. WOW!)

“This is a tremendous opportunity for M. D. Anderson – Orlando and we are thrilled to be named as a recipient of these awards,” said Clarence Brown, III, MD, president and CEO, M. D. Anderson – Orlando. “We want to give special thanks to LIVESTRONG and to everyone who voted in support of this program here in Central Florida. We are very excited to move forward and provide these programs to our patients.”

For the first program, United Arts of Central Florida will work with The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program and will allow patients to explore, absorb, and express themselves creatively as they endure diagnosis and treatment. The program will work bedside as well as in small group settings with men, women, and children.

“Through the generosity of LIVESTRONG, United Arts is proud to facilitate in bringing local artists to M. D. Anderson – Orlando as the fight against cancer continues,” said Cory Warren, events manager, United Arts of Central Florida. “We are honored to continue the success of The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program locally by coupling the arts and medicine in the full spectrum of the healing process.”

The second program, The Cancer Transitions is designed to support, educate and empower people with cancer in the transitional period after treatment is over. By incorporating support groups, education, nutrition and physical exercise, as well as addressing other medical management, a survivor’s psychosocial and quality of life issues will be discussed.

M. D. Anderson – Orlando was selected as a recipient for the $20,000 in LIVESTRONG grants following a national online voting campaign involving more than 170 hospitals and cancer centers.

Congrats and use it well!

More LIVESTRONG News:  “The 28 Can’t Wait.”

You can support the LIVESTRONG foundation even more by buying really, really cool yellow gear. (Yeah, there are other colors, too, but yellow is the really, really cool one, no?)

Between now and midnight on November 30, all LIVESTRONG gear will be 28% off in honor of the 28 million survivors who are fighting this disease.

Get your LIVESTRONG gear today, and use the discount code THE28 to get 28% off! Click here to shop now.


Filed under Celebrity, Charity, Contest, General Info, Non-profit, Orlando, Out of Orlando, The Arts

LIVESTRONG! Vote to Bring Its Residence-in-Arts Program to Orlando

What is it?

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, in partnership with United Arts, has been selected as one of just 57 finalists across the nation for a grant from LIVESTRONG’s Artists-in-Residence Program!



This totally cool program would enable local artists to use the power of the arts to work directly with M.D. Anderson patients and their families as they meet the challenges of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Yeah, fighting cancer is tough, so why not help bring a bit of happiness through art into these patients’ lives?

How can you help?

Only YOUR votes to make this happen! You can vote now through 7 p.m. on October 29 by clicking the link below to help bring LIVESTRONG’s Artists-in-Residence Program to M. D. Anderson – Orlando.



Filed under Charity, family, Non-profit

United Arts “In Your Backyard: Where Newcomers Meet the Arts”

I would actually revise this event’s tagline to “Where Locals Meet the Arts.” You see, I am not a newcomer, but rather a 3rd generation Central Floridian, but even I was delighted by the information I received when I attended United Arts’ last “In Your Backyard.”

Every quarter, United Arts gathers local cultural venues to a morning get-together. Here you get to mingle with some leaders in the arts world and hear what’s new and exciting. Then, you watch a short presentation which gives in-depth information about each participating venue.  When I attended the last “In Your Backyard” held at the Winter Park Playhouse, here’s who I got to know better:

Winter Park Playhouse

Heather Alexander, Executive Director of the Playhouse, gave a brief overview of their lovely theater. It’s a nice size theater, a converted warehouse space. The theater focuses on musical theater (only one in Central Florida that only does musical theater) and they like to feature rarely seen or Off Broadway shows. They also do a series called  “Playhouse in the Park” which are free performances on the stage in downtown Winter Park in Central Park.  By the way, their upcoming “Pump Boys and Dinettes” was voted the #1 “Top 5” performing arts event this month!

The Enzian Theater

We next heard from Henry Maldonado, the President of Enzian, as he explained that the Enzian is more than just a movie theater – they are looking to create an independent movie experience! They have Film Slam once a month after the Sunday brunch, which focuses on local up-and-coming movie makers. They want to create debate and discussion and to have viewers realize, “Arguing over movies is the most fun thing you can do it and Enzian is the place to do it!”  He also explained that the theater’s outdoor Eden Bar is a destination, where people who love movies are hanging out. They also do monthly outdoor movies called “Popcorn Flicks” in Winter Park’s Central Park. They also have movie festivals throughout the year such as the upcoming Jewish Film Fest in November or the nationally prestigious Florida Film Festival in the spring. (IMDB.com recently listed this as one of the best in the world!)

Crealde School of Art

We next heard from Peter Schreyer, the Executive Director of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which is a special project by Crealde and the culmination of 8 years of research by residents, historians, etc.. There you can see 125 museum quality pieces of the Heritage Collection, and it is located at Hannibal Heritage Center, on the corner of Pennsylvania and New England in Winter Park. Schreyer described it as “125 windows into a historic community: photographs and oral histories of west Winter Park.”  I appreciate the facts that all the staff and docents are lifelong residents of the area. Last year he says they received 7,500 visitors and 35% were from out of town. In addition to this special project for west Winter Park, Crealde has been the leader in teaching arts in central Florida for 14 years now.  They have a beautiful facility off Aloma Ave. (their main campus) which contains a state of the art digital photography classroom with a grant. The Top 5 enjoys going to Crealde for their Annual Cup-A-Thon!

Orange County Arts Education

Next up was Scott Evans, the Director of the Orange County Arts Education Center. He spoke passionately about the importance of maintaining arts education in Florida’s public schools. He then listed some of the programs he oversees:

  • Magic journey to the arts program (highest percentage of paid lunch schools, in partnership with Orlando magic)
  • Children, arts and cultural alliaNce of a central FL … Takes children with poor home lives to museums, meet artists, etc.
  • Provide teachers with tools to teach art across the curriculum
  • Arts summer art guide…. Free and available from the public library or online

Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida

Last we heard from Autumn Ames, the Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida. She listed several of the highlights of the Alliance:

  • Red Chair Project, a “One Stop Shop for Arts”
  • Marketing branch/community engagement of United Arts
  • Serve 7 counties in Central Florida region
  • Promote arts to residents and tourists
  • Classes and workshops listed here
  • Free for arts organizations to post…
  • Orlando Arts Getaways – hotel, arts, restaurants, etc.
  • Red Chair Affair in August
  • Orlando Arts Sampler (ticket to 7 different arts groups for around $100)

By the way, the Top 5 absolutely loved the Red Chair Affair this year… it was magical!

So, if you have a chance, be sure to attend this quarter’s “In Your Backyard” to see what great arts and cultural things are happening right here in Central Florida. You might even win 2 free tickets to an upcoming event! Here’s the information: Wednesday, October 13 at the Maitland Art Center from 8:00 – 9:30 am.


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Filed under Education, General Info, Maitland, The Arts, Uniquely Florida

That Brian Feldman… what a chair! (What a night!)

Brian Feldman as a Red Chair

I truly believe Brian Feldman is what Orlando Weekly called “Orlando’s greatest living performance artist”  because not only has he turned himself into an inanimate object (a red chair), but he’s also auctioned himself off to be that inanimate object at an event of the winner’s choice! So, why would somebody want to pose as a red chair? To benefit the arts of Central Florida… why else?!

Quick question to the Orlando Weekly: If Brian is the greatest living performance artist, who is Orlando’s greatest dead performance artist?

It was all done for the 6th Annual Red Chair Affair, Central Florida’s Kick Off to the 2010-2011 Cultural Season, presented by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida.

When my hubby and I arrived at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, we were greeted outside by belly dancers from A Magi Dance Entertainment. Inside, the lobby was already packed as theatre-goers were watching smaller performances and artisans. There you could see artwork and artists from the Creadle School of Art, talk with Kent Arblaster of the Maitland Art and History Association, watch entertainment from Flamenco del Sol, and the VIP’s got to listen to musical performances from the Winter Park Playhouse Cabaret.

A tango from Flamenco del Sol

While waiting for the show, I got a chance to see United ArtsEmma Kruch and Cory Warren, who were busy discussing why The Arts Matter with everyone. If you haven’t checked out why The Arts Matter, be sure to click the link here!

Top 5 editor Bess Auer in between United Art's Emma Kruch and Cory Warren

One we got seated inside the auditorium–yeah, we were way back because it was general seating and we were late!–we got to view a slideshow of all the chairs that had been created by different groups, attractions, and foundations from around Central Florida. These were auctioned off to raise funds for the arts.

Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs' chair

Orlando Improv Fest's chair

IFLY Orlando's chair

Art Hub's chair

Global Peace Film Festival and Gatorland's chair

On stage right were two ASL interpreters from Valencia Community College (who did a fabulous job throughout the evening, including a little choreography during the musical parts) as well as Thomas Thorspecken from the Analog Artist Digital World. He was correctly billed as a “Live Visual Artist” who was sketching and painting while the show was happening, and I can’t wait to see how he captured the evening!

And then the featured performances got started with the “Star Spangled Banner” sung by the Bach Festival Society  Choir (gorgeous!) only to be followed by several more performances, each one introduced by Mayor Buddy DyerOrlando Magic’s Bo Outlaw and Nick Andersen, and many other local “movers and shakers” on a huge screen hung high above the stage. Here are the acts we saw:

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil— A new juggling act was debuted, which looks very promising. We only got a taste, as most performance were only 5 to 7 minutes long, but the juggler and La Nouba’s quirky “Green Bird” character were impressive! (But why isn’t the “Green Bird” green?)

Orlando Shakespeare Theater— I know Orlando Shakes does much, much more than Shakespeare, but the scene chosen to be showcased (a duet from “Chaps! A Jingle, Jangle Christmas”) was a fun one which had me singing along.

Emotions Dance with Tod Caviness— This was a very powerful piece, where a trio of female dancers stomped out an enticing routine reflecting the story of “Spoken Word Artist” Tod Caviness, which seemed like a strange dream from all I could tell.  I remember something like “she was the daughter of the sun” to start it off and “we weren’t quite sure what happened the next morning” and then “we went back to our caves” for the end.  Between the dramatic music and lighting, the emotional dancers, and the strength of Caviness’ voice, it was a memorable act.

Orlando Gay Chorus, Menage— This smaller group’s high energy had the crowd clapping along! And while choreography was campy and fun, we have to remember they are a choral group of Orlando residents, not professional dancers, and their singing delightfully brought this home. A fun time to be had, for sure!

Bay Street Players— This is a group I have heard about, but have never been inspired to make the trip to Eustis until now… even my hubby loved their baseball music scene!  High-spirited and humorous, their singing and acting hit the perfect balance. We will definitely be making the drive to see a show or two in their historic theater.

Orlando Ballet— Taken from their Battle of the Sexes, which was a Top 5 event earlier this year, this duet definitely “brought sexy back” and then some!  The music was edgy, the outfits black rubber, and the guy bare-chested and tattooed; this had me wishing I had been able to attend the Battle of the Sexes when it was showing!  (Next year!)

SAK Comedy Lab— A twenty-year experiment in downtown Orlando, the SAK Comedy Lab is a sure bet for ingenious comedy! Where else can you see a guy confess to “cleaning cat litter at Mount Rushmore with paris Hilton”? (And do it while singing in rhyme!) And while SAK Comedy Lab also claimed to “bring sexy back,”  they definitely brought laughter back!

Winter Park Playhouse— The Playhouse featured four dynamite singers who raised the roof with their powerful voices, all set to Aretha Franklin type soul. Very moving!

VarieTease— Punk rocker prima donnas… loved it!  Dressed in hilariously edgy tutus, lace, leather, and steel, these three ladies were incredible athletes who attacked the crowd and the camera with a vengeance, before primly tip-toeing off-stage. (And I can’t wait to see what else they have to offer this season!)

Orlando Repertory Theatre’s Power Chords— A group of young singers featured some of the best voices of the evening… imagine Glee! but drop it down to include middle schoolers, and you have the idea. Bright colors, incredible voices, fun choreography, all professionally done!

Yow Dance— The Top 5 has promoted their events in the past, but this is the first time I have been able to see Yow, and wow! I was impressed!  A modern dance feel with powerful movements and emotion, I will definitely be seeking out their performances this season.

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sovereign Brass— When these five brass players and drummer started their act with the theme from *The Muppets, I knew there was frivolity to be had!  True performers, this fun group gave me an appreciation for their talent and skill. One of my favorite acts of the night and a great way to end the show!

*Correction: The Daily City’s Mark Baratelli kindly pointed out I have absolutely no ear for music, and what I took to be the intro to The Muppets was actually from the Broadway musical Chicago. Oops! Oh well, it was still enjoyable! 🙂


Filed under Celebrity, Charity, Fun, General Info, Music, The Arts, Uniquely Florida

Here’s to THE year!

Children across the state of Florida are pulling on their new duds and shuffling off to school… what a special time of year!

In case you didn’t realize it, I am a teacher in addition to editing the Top 5 blog. I teach 6th grade English at Park Maitland School, and today was my students’ first day back…only I wasn’t there! (I missed my first two class periods because I was at Orange TV Studios filming an interview for the Top 5 conducted by the talented Cory Warren of United Arts!) However, my students’ excitement and expectations were almost palpable when I finally made it to school to join them.

And my own son isn’t immune to this anticipation… an only child, he relishes the social interaction school gives, so he was very anxious to return today. You know the routine, when the night before he agrees to go to bed a reasonable hour, then he nearly leaps from bed this morning. (If only this would last all school year long!)

But as both a teacher and a parent, I want to point out something very specific to all the other parents out there…I want my students to succeed just as much as I want my own son to succeed.  As I was lying in bed last night, I had a sense of excitement when thinking about the coming school year…anything was possible! I held out hope that this year would be the one that my son grows by leaps and bounds, finds his true interests, and discovers his potential.  Then I realized that every other parent in the state was probably hoping for the same things for their children.

We all want the best, and it is my job as a teacher to help my students achieve this… so, parents, please do not look at your children’s teacher as an obstacle, but rather as a stepping stone, who is there to help your child reach that potential! So, to all the families who have headed back to school today… I hope this year is a fabulous one for you!

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Filed under Education, family, Just for Me