Tag Archives: downtown Orlando

Arts Shined Brightly during IMMERSE in Downtown Orlando By Sandra Carr

I felt like I was experiencing an arts extravaganza in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago or another big city in the United States or across the pond this past weekend. I’m happy to report that the phenomenon was in O-town.

Tropical Storm Nestor was kind to Central Florida and didn’t put a damper on Creative City Project’s eighth annual IMMERSE in downtown Orlando. Attendees experienced interactive-art displays and watched state-of-the-art, performing-arts productions during the two-day event.

Immerse 2019 Poster

IMMERSE, which featured more than 1,000 artists from 140 arts groups this year, is organized by Creative City Project’s Founder and Executive Director Cole NeSmith. He wanted to introduce folks to music, dance, design and visual art that his friends were creating and decided to organize an event in a public space in downtown Orlando in October 2012.

IMMERSE has evolved and become an international arts showcase.

“We’re committed to making IMMERSE a destination event for people from around the world and an event that makes Orlando residents proud,” says NeSmith.  “Year after year, we have the opportunity to partner with Central Florida arts organizations to create unique performances. We love collaborating with artists to create innovative arts experiences audiences can’t have anywhere else in the world.”

IMMERSE featured aerialists and dancers telling stories through their movement and cultural outfits.

Additional performers included Orlando Ballet, Opera Orlando and local musicians.

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REVolutions Dance paid homage to women during its performance.

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Orlando Aerial Arts amazed the crowd in front of Orlando City Hall during IMMERSE.

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Huellas de Colombia Folkdances performed cultural dances during IMMERSE.

Dan and I enjoyed watching performing-arts groups on various stages throughout downtown Orlando, but we were enthralled with acrobatic dance troupe DIAVOLO, which was like watching architecture in motion.

The LA dancers wowed audiences during the 12th season of “America’s Got Talent” and earned a spot in the top 10.

The dance company made its IMMERSE debut by performing “Trajectoire,” a visceral and emotional journey on a 3,000-pound boat constructed of wood, aluminum and steel.

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DIAVOLO takes the audience on a voyage during its “Trajectoire” performance.

The dancers struggle to find their balance on a voyage of destiny and destination while performing acrobatic moves on a moving vessel and show the transcendence of the human soul against all odds.

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DIAVOLO is architecture in motion during its “Trajectoire” performance.

Another highlight was the Blue Man Group whose concerts are overflowing with percussive synergy. The magnetized crowd was digging the cobalt-blue trio’s colorful vibe as they created artwork with paint balls, painted a spectator after they had him put on a white jumpsuit and sprayed the audience with white confetti.

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The Blue Man Group plays percussive instruments. Image courtesy of the Blue Man Group.

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The Blue Man Group prepares for the colorful, paint ball challenge.

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An audience member becomes a work of art during the Blue Man Group’s performance.

IMMERSE attendees had a chance to create a floral crown during the festivities.

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IMMERSE attendees adorned their hair with floral crowns.

Participants interacted with hundreds of stringed light bulbs during the OUC Lights exhibit.

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I’m striking a pose with the OUC Lights during IMMERSE!

Guests had a chance to meet someone new during Table Talk.

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Attendees had an opportunity to chat up other IMMERSE participants during Table Talk.

The Cigna Foundation sponsored the Feeding Children Everywhere’s “Everyone Matters” interactive sculpture. Attendees had an opportunity to stand on 1 of 12 pedestals. Once all pedestals were activated, the sculpture illuminated with dancing light.

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The “Everyone Matters” interactive sculpture reminds us that together we can do more than any of us could ever do on our own.

Hawkers Asian Street Fare created a tasty, immersive experience with its “Senses of Asia.” The walk-through exhibit provided guests with a chance to smell, hear, see and touch. Dan and I smelled ginger, herbs and spices and heard food being cooked in hot oil and the clanging of a metal spatula as it flipped food on a wok. Attendees had a chance to purchase the restaurant’s Asian delicacies next to the display.

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Attendees drew art and wrote sayings in chalk on the outside of Hawkers Asian Street Fare’s “Senses of Asia” exhibit.

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Dan is immersed in the “Senses of Asia” exhibit.

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The “Senses of Asia” exhibit had a photo-op area, which resembled an Asian market at night.

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Attendees had a chance to touch and smell Asian vegetables and fruit.

The Orlando Science Center’s volcanic eruption was a hot hit during IMMERSE! The science museum promoted its “Pompeii the Immortal City” exhibit, which runs from June 6-Sept. 7, 2020. Orlando is one of four cities selected to display this historic exhibit.

Visitors will experience the destruction of Pompeii and identify the inhabitants of that time, immobilized by ashes after Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.

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The Orlando Science Center promoted its “Pompeii the Immortal City” exhibit during IMMERSE.

Guests were striking a pose on various decorative sets that featured lighting, projection and special effects in eight shipping containers during “The Worlds of Corkcicle” at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Seneff Arts Plaza.

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“The Worlds of Corkcicle” provided guests with a chance to take a photo at Instagram-worthy spots.

Mother Nature wasn’t kind to Architects of Air’s luminaria and immersive sculpture “DODECALIS,” which is adjacent to “The Worlds of Corkcicle.” The late-night rain storm on Friday evening caused the interactive exhibit to be closed on Saturday.

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The Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS” features six domes that resemble connected bounce houses.

A volunteer let me know that I could return to experience “DODECALIS” next week. I stopped by on Sunday and felt like a kid again.

The luminarium has five domes that resemble connected bounce houses. The light shines through the domes’ panels. When you look up at the ceiling, you can see different colored shapes, which add to the zen-like ambiance.

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The blue dome in Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.” Image courtesy of Architects of Air.

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The red dome in Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”

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A flower-shaped design in the Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”

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Participants relax in the Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”

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The top of the “Tree” in Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”

Guests who have their VIP wristbands from Saturday night can experience the huge, illuminating inflatables and “The Worlds of Corkcicle” at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Seneff Arts Plaza through Saturday, Oct. 26. Visit creativecityproject.com for times. Tickets cost $17 if you don’t have a VIP wristband.

Dan and I were blown away by IMMERSE! I’m a native Orlandoan, so I can truly say that Orlando has come a long way.

Add IMMERSE to your bucket list and make it happen next October because you will be inspired and touched by the enormous amount of artistic talent in the City Beautiful.

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Lion’s Pride and Soccer are a Perfect Match By Sandra Carr

Gather your purple-pride posse before or after an Orlando City Soccer Club match and dine in style at the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill in downtown Orlando’s Church Street district.

I experienced a filling, five-course foodie feast served by attentive staff during the restaurant’s media tasting event last week. The sports-dining destination, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary in May, serves delicious and moderately-priced dishes created by executive chef Scott Phillips.

I was welcomed with a glass of bubbly and presented with the first course, featuring peppered tuna with sweet Thai chili sauce drizzled on top, avocado relish and cilantro lime slaw paired with a mini Blue Moon draft and fresh orange wedge. The sweetness complemented the fresh and healthy sides and beer sample, which is my favorite, go-to wheat beer.

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Peppered tuna with sweet Thai chili sauce, avocado relish and cilantro lime slaw.

The starter course continued and included two petite brisket soft tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, queso blanco and chipotle aioli paired with a Samuel Adams Winter Lager. The small but mighty duo was delicious and coupled with the brew. The brisket was tender and blended well with the fresh ingredients. The mixture didn’t fall out of the soft taco shells, which was a plus.

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Two petite brisket soft tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, queso blanco and chipotle aioli.

Round two featured a caprese salad with good-sized red and yellow vine-ripe tomato slices and round chunks of buffalo mozzarella garnished with basil oil and balsamic glaze and paired with a glass of Terra d’Oro 2015 blended Chenin Blanc. The elegant salad’s veggies were deliciously compatible with the rich, buffalo mozzarella and basil oil and balsamic glaze. The glass of wine complemented the flavors even more with each sip.

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Caprese salad paired with a glass of Terra d’Oro 2015 blended Chenin Blanc.

Next was a shrimp and lobster risotto with creamy Parmesan cheese and parsley sprinkles paired with a Lion’s Pride signature, hand-muddled lime margarita. This was the creamiest risotto I have ever eaten, and was my favorite dish during the tasting. The medium-sized shrimp and lobster pieces were mixed smoothly with the Parmesan cheese and gave comfort food a whole new meaning with its refreshing margarita counterpart. More, please!

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Shrimp and lobster risotto with creamy Parmesan cheese.

The fourth dish, a blue cheese filet with garlic boursin mash potatoes and red wine demi-glaze with two generous-sized asparagus and a carrot paired with a glass of Emmolo 2015 Merlot from the Napa Valley was a hearty meal. The medium-cooked, juicy and tender filet with melted blue cheese was oh so good! The fresh-out-of-the-garden vegetables and the dollop of garlic boursin mashed potatoes made the meal even more satisfying with the glass of Merlot.

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Blue cheese filet with garlic boursin mash potatoes, red wine demi-glaze, asparagus and carrot.

Two desserts provided a sweet ending to the tasting. The thick, chocolate mousse with whipped cream paired with a Lion’s Pride whiskey-based red sangria adorned with a fruit skewer balanced the rich and sweetness nicely. The Romeo and Juliet, a guava-filled Phyllo dough pastry with white cheese queso blanco, was complemented with a glass of passion fruit pureed champagne and took an edge off of the sweet journey. The Romeo and Juliet is ideal for folks who like a light baked good as a snack or after dinner.

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Chocolate mousse with whipped cream paired with a Lion’s Pride whiskey-based red sangria and the Romeo and Juliet complemented with a glass of passion fruit pureed champagne.

Phillips was a Tribeca neighborhood chef in New York City for many years. His goal was to create a menu with an array of selections for everyone’s taste.

“The menu features a variety of different kinds of cuisine,” he said. “I didn’t want to stick to a typical sports-bar food menu. I wanted it to be a bit upscale.”

Besides the menu, I was impressed with the building’s transformation. The restaurant was formerly Bliss Ultra Lounge and Phineas Phogg’s, which was renowned for its nickel beer every Wednesday night back in the day. The décor features a casual-style design with warm, natural tones and a comfy ambiance that makes you feel right at home while watching a soccer match on the pub’s flat-screen TVs. I’m happy to report that some of the original brick panels were saved during the renovation.

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Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill

On the second level, soccer fans can score a VIP experience with Church Street views, a gold-tone leather sectional sofa with a glass soccer ball-shaped coffee table, purple leather stadium seats, tables with purple chairs, a mural of the Orlando City Soccer Club’s mascot Kingston, a long bar with a marble top and a private party room.

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An upstairs wall features a mural of Orlando City Soccer Club’s mascot Kingston.

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I’m posing on the gold-tone leather sectional sofa on the second level of the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill.

Soccer fans can hang out with a brew or cocktail while seated at tables that can accommodate large groups, be mesmerized by a vintage World Cup soccer ball collection and purchase Orlando City Soccer Club and Pride merchandise on the first floor.

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View a vintage World Cup soccer ball collection on the first floor of the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill.

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Purchase Orlando City Soccer Club and Pride merchandise on the first level of the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill.

Watch the Orlando City Soccer Club and Pride’s home or away soccer matches, World Cup soccer matches from June 14 through July 15, 2018 and any sporting event while chowing down at this lion’s lair.

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