...has always been.... I thoroughly intend to get K.D. Lang's iconic lyrics playing through your head today for two reasons:

a) there is just some sort of odd joy in needling one's way into people's heads via song


And commence with your happy dance..... NOW.

Charleston's Spoleto Festival is, put plainly, my favorite time of the year on the coast.  The two-week long arts extravaganza features some of the best performances, visual arts exhibitions, parties and people watching available on the eastern seaboard.  You never know what is going to happen. A party could spill out into the street, inviting passerby to join. The Market could swaying with Salsa dancers at 11:30pm. You might accidentally run smack into a secret service officer while hurrying into a restaurant (true story). You could suddenly discover the incredible range and emotion of a contemporary opera. You may encounter a dog wearing a tutu. You just never know!

The lineup for 2012 is enthralling.  Here are some events to consider (which you should do now, as tickets are already selling quickly):

Hay Fever

After the success of 2010's Present Laughter at the newly renovated Dock Street Theater, Dublin's legendary Gate Theatre is returning with another Noël Coward play. Hay Fever, originally performed in 1925 and now directed by Patrick Mason, follows the Bliss family through their bohemian whimsies during a weekend with guests. Their world revolves around their own theatrical tendencies and dreams, cueing hilarity as unsuspecting guests observe and try to interact.

Cécile McLorin Salvant

This young French-American jazz singer won the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition in 2010, and has continued to become known for her soulful, saucy voice as she handles standards as if she lives their lyrics every day.  She is an incredibly fitting choice for the thick and deliciously juicy Charleston air that fills the Cistern Yard at the College of Charleston. As you listen and drink in the scene you will have a difficult time believing that this talent is only 22-years-old.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Another returning act, this dance company retains the power to transfix an audience.  This year's program is said to be filled with new pieces as well as classics such as Revelations (if you have never seen "Wade In The Water" from this collection, you are missing out on a piece of American history.  This is a piece of the Spoleto program that will sell out quickly, if you are interested, head to the website immediately.

The Radio Show

If you have a taste for something more urban and contemporary, check out Kyle Abraham's The Radio Showand performed by the Abraham.In.Motion dance company. The performance has been called "an abstract narrative around the loss of communication" resulting from the shuttering of Pittsburgh's only urban contemporary radio station. It also deals with the communicative losses that ensue as a family deals with the shadow of Alzheimer's creeping across its dynamic. Classic soul and hip-hop are mixed with contemporary classical music to create a show that chronicles the changing emotions of current issues and predicaments.

K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang

The four-time Grammy Award winning vocalist will perform June 3.  Her latest musical productions have been an interesting mix of jazzy sultriness and an almost bluegrass-like twang.  Her voice is as pure and arresting as ever, and the crowd is sure to be wowed.

As I hinted before, now is the time to book your tickets.  I was on the website looking at the opening night forKepler, the Philip Glass opera that begins on Memorial Day, and many of the orchestra seats were already gone.  Make your plans now and maybe I'll see you there!