Best Of 2017

Best "May I Swoop"
photo courtesy of Orlando Ballet


Orlando Ballet

October 28-30, 2016

For a few days around Halloween, the Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was all about the season, hosting Orlando Ballet's over-the-top production of Dracula, as reimagined by choreographer Michael Pink with a gonzoid assist from Ken Russell. Anyone who assumed that the ballet medium would be too ethereal for the gory pulp noir of Bram Stoker got a stake driven through the heart of their preconceptions. The sets were spectacularly dank and gothic, the costumes were amazing, and the body movement was lithe and fluid, suited to the twilit dreamscape of the Dracula legend. The physicality of Daniel Benavides as Dracula was unbelievable – tossing around adversaries like puppets, creeping feral along the stage, seemingly dissolving into mist or shadow, seducing his victims. No tricks, all treat.

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

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

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,

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

3. The Falcon, 819 E. Washington St., 407-423-3060,

Best Arts Advocate

1. Blue Star

2. Joshua Vickery

3. Patrick Greene

Best Arts Event/Art Festival

1. Orlando Fringe Festival,

2. Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival,

3. Mount Dora Art Festival,

Best Burlesque Troupe

1. The Ladies of the Peekaboo Lounge

2. Varietease

3. Corsets and Cuties,

Best Comedy Club or Comedy Night

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

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

3. The Tumbleweed Comedy Tour,

Best Dance Company
<p>1. Orlando Ballet,

2. DRIP,

3. Orlando Bellydance,

Best Film Fest or Series

1. Enzian Cult Classics,

2. Florida Film Festival,

3. Orlando Film Festival,