“Kuchipudi comes from a strong dance and theater tradition. The masculine, strong movements are percussive; the feminine ones are soft and undulating,” Shivalingappa says from Austria. “The life of an artist is wonderful. I love dancing, and I get to do that in so many different ways, working with so many artists. Kuchipudi is so intense, but doing other things allows me to come back to Kuchipudi with as much passion as always.”
Morris’ friend and White Oak Dance Project co-founder Baryshnikov has been a presence (and in 2010, a performer) throughout the short history of the Ringling festival. The October gathering will be Morris’ first time in Sarasota, and the appearance will be just a week after the new piece A Wooden Tree has its world premiere in his hometown, Seattle. Morris rarely dances any more, but his wide-ranging talents have led him to choreograph for his own company, for ballet companies and for various opera companies, and he has also done some conducting for his company’s performances. He likes it all, though he remains exacting and outspoken.
“I love ballet, but the ballet world is extremely conservative politically, socially and sexually. It’s very, very old fashioned. As far as men and women go, the dancers are perpetually infantilized,” he says.
The juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional art forms, the unique setting at the Ringling and its expansive grounds, the chance to see artists perform and then encounter them in casual settings — all of that, says Currie, enriches a trip to the festival.
“This is like the collectors’ collection. This performances and performers are so very different, and not so easily found in one place,” he says. “It’s so worth the drive.”