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 Arts‘ Emma 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 Dyer, Orlando 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!