Dancers from the Tampa City Ballet catch some air during the ballet company’s performance at the first-ever Fall Festival at the New Tampa Performing Arts Center Sept. 8-10. (Photo by Charmaine George and Gary Nager)

If you somehow missed the first-ever Fall Festival at the all-new New Tampa Performing Arts Center (NTPAC), you missed a truly special weekend (Sept. 8-10) of 100% free performances of virtually every kind. 

A spectacular dance performance by the Jansen Dance Company.

Everything from ballet to modern dance and from Broadway to traditional Indian dance was available to attendees, thousands of whom packed the NTPAC throughout the weekend. NTPAC executive director Keith Arsenault (photo below) was clearly beaming all three days of the Fall Festival. 

“We couldn’t be happier with the performances, the attendance and the feedback we’ve received from everyone who visited this weekend,” Arsenault said. “It’s clear that this community has been hungry for more cultural opportunities.” 

Although we weren’t able to take pictures at every performance, Neighborhood News photographer Charmaine George and I were proud to be on hand for most of the weekend’s festivities, which also included Arsenault unveiling a plaque of thanks (bottom middle) to Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan (bottom left). Arsenault said that the land for the NTPAC was dedicated 15 years ago, and that it took 15 County Commission votes to make the Center a reality. “We have many people at the county to thank,” Arsenault said, “but we would not be standing here today without the long-standing efforts of Ken Hagan.” 

Hagan was clearly moved by the plaque. “Politicians are rarely at a loss for words, but I am blown away by this. Thank you!”

After the impressive and super-fun performances on Friday afternoon and evening, the NTPAC’s Fall Festival didn’t rest on its laurels. To the contrary, it may have even stepped it up to another level on Saturday, as the outstanding Wharton High band (above) first filled the main stage theater and no one left disappointed. 

But, as great as the ‘Cats musicians were, the performance by the Tampa City Ballet (above pics) Saturday evening was the first of the weekend to have to turn away people who wanted to check out this professional-level ballet company, as somewhere between 20-30 people had to watch the dancers and the troupe’s incredible backgrounds that were projected onto the cyclorama (cyc) at the back of the NTPAC stage on a TV in the lobby. 

There was no let-up on Sunday, either, as the Rudram Dance Company brought a huge number of traditionally-costumed Indian dancers to the NTPAC’s main stage. Then, before two one-act plays (“Co-Workers” and “Sherlock Holmes & Case of the 5-Pound Note”) were presented by winners of the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival, the folk rock acoustic duo of Daisies & Axes performed in Studio 2. There also was a “Fun with Broadway Trivia” game presented by the New Tampa Players, followed by ATLAS Modern Ballet’s contemporary dance performance, but we didn’t get to shoot those because of our deadline. Wow! Can’t wait ‘til next year!—GN 

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