Best Of 2017

Renee Falconetti as Joan of Arc
Renee Falconetti as Joan of Arc

Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc

Nov. 18-19, 2016

Knowles Memorial Chapel

bachfestivalflorida.org

Last November brought a once-in-a-lifetime live communal experience when composer Richard Einhorn supervised a live choral/orchestra rendition of his heart-rending score to Carl Dreyer's silent film classic. In the Knowles chapel's grandiosely gothic environs, massed voices and orchestral instrumentation accompanied impressionistic visuals. Lighting was minimal, but the atmosphere was breathtaking – and despite Einhorn's sweeping hymnal melancholy, it was the soul-grinding pain in the eyes of Renee Falconetti as Joan that hit the hardest. Sweetest hurt. (See our feature on Voices of Light here.)

Arts and Culture: Orlando's best comedians, film fests, museums and more

Arts and Culture
Dana Hargrove shoots some of her work hanging at OMA
image courtesy artist
Dana Hargrove shoots some of her work hanging at OMA

danahargrove.com

Dana Hargrove's Scottish roots transplanted quickly to Central Florida, but she still says "Orlgh-lannndo" with a delightful Edinburgh burr. Exhibiting around the country and recently back from an artist's residency in Iceland, Hargrove's crisply colored cairns were selected for this year's Florida Prize in Contemporary Art show at the Orlando Museum of Art. Ancient Scottish rockpiles inspire Hargrove's contemporary notions of urbanity, social ties and globalism, and that's not just clarty blether, laddie. (Read our interview with the artist here.)

Best performance art 
as group catharsis
Photo by Bernard Wilchusky / UCF

wandaraimundi-ortiz.com

Back in March, UCF professor Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz stopped time and carved out a space to collectively mourn the ongoing loss of young people of color to bias crimes with her 90-minute endurance performance Pietà. Reflecting the maternal gesture of the work's sculptural namesake, Raimundi-Ortiz cradled 33 volunteer participants with infectious tenderness and vulnerability as DJ Stereo 77 queued quintessential R&B, Afrobeat, jazz and soul truncated by the sounds of sirens. Pews in the Knowles Memorial Chapel were filled with witnesses to the raw pain of grief and to the artist's resilience. Our hearts are full knowing that she went on to perform Pietà at the National Portrait Gallery just two months later. (See our article on Pietà here.)

Best Art Gallery

1. CityArts Factory, 29 S. Orange Ave., 407-648-7060, orlandoslice.com

2. Snap Space, 1013 E. Colonial Drive, 407-286-2185, snaporlando.com

3. The Falcon, 819 E. Washington St., 407-423-3060, facebook.com/thefalconbar

Best Arts Advocate

1. Blue Star

2. Joshua Vickery

3. Patrick Greene

Best Arts Event/Art Festival

1. Orlando Fringe Festival, orlandofringe.org

2. Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, wpsaf.org

3. Mount Dora Art Festival, mountdoracenterforthearts.org

Best Burlesque Troupe

1. The Ladies of the Peekaboo Lounge

2. Varietease

3. Corsets and Cuties, corsetsandcuties.com

Best Comedy Club or Comedy Night

1. SAK Comedy Lab, 29 S. Orange Ave., 407-648-0001, sakcomedylab.com

2. Improv Orlando, 9101 International Drive, 407-480-5233, theimprovorlando.com

3. The Tumbleweed Comedy Tour, tomanddan.com

Best Dance Company
<p>1. Orlando Ballet, orlandoballet.org

2. DRIP, ilovedrip.com

3. Orlando Bellydance, orlandobellydance.com

Best Film Fest or Series

1. Enzian Cult Classics, enzian.org

2. Florida Film Festival, floridafilmfestival.com

3. Orlando Film Festival, orlandofilmfest.com