Featuring ballets from some of the most sought after choreographers of the ballet world.
Sarasota, FL (May 3, 2017) – The Sarasota Ballet’s Director Iain Webb announces the Company’s 2017 – 2018 Season, with seven programs, including 12 ballets by some of the most celebrated and prestigious choreographers and composers of the ballet world. The Season will see the a World Premiere by Marcelo Gomes, star of American Ballet Theatre, as well as Company premieres of Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, David Bintley’s ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, Paul Taylor’s Airs, and Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading. Revivals include Sir Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations and Marguerite and Armand, Ricardo Graziano’s Valsinhas, Matthew Hart’s John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker, Robert North’s Troy Game and Will Tuckett’s The Secret Garden.
“The repertoire of The Sarasota Ballet has been one of the main driving factors for the growth and success the Company has seen over the past 10 years,” explains Webb. “My goal in planning this Season is to once again bring to our audience, and indeed our dancers, an array of works that showcase ballet’s versatility and beauty. In just a single season our audience will see works by such prestigious Choreographers as Sir Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine, while in the same evening witness Choreographers like Marcelo Gomes who are impacting this art form today.”
Before the 2017 – 2018 Season commences in October, The Sarasota Ballet will tour to Salt Lake City for Ballet West’s inaugural National Choreographic Festival, May 19 – 27, where they will perform Ricardo Graziano’s In a State of Weightlessness alongside performances by Pennsylvania Ballet and Ballet West. For more information on the Festival visit their website at https://balletwest.org/events/national-choreographic-festival.
The first production of the year sees the much anticipated return of Olivier Award Winner Will Tuckett’s The Secret Garden, which amazed and exhilarated audiences during its premiere in 2014. The ballet tells Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved tale of an orphaned young girl, Mary, who is sent to live with her Uncle in the countryside. She soon discovers a secret garden and a young sickly boy, Colin, who never leaves his room for fear of his health. Together, with their friend Dickon, they explore the garden and in the process find love, family and health in their own special paradise. The ballet features a commissioned score by composer Jeremy Holland-Smith, as well as puppetry and narration that help bring the story, characters and the garden to life. During its World Premiere, William S. Oser of Talkin’ Broadway said that “Will Tuckett’s The Secret Garden is a complete delight.”
Program 2, Metropolitan, brings the world of New York Dance to Sarasota, with three ballets deeply connected to the city that never sleeps. Opening the performance is the return of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations, one of only two ballets that Ashton choreographed on New York City Ballet. Performed to Sir Benjamin Britten’s settings for tenor and string, of selected poems by Arthur Rimbaud, the enfant terrible of French poetry, this dark and enigmatic ballet portrays the poet’s infatuation with his sacred and profane loves. Metropolitan also sees a World Premiere by star of American Ballet Theatre, Marcelo Gomes, marking the first time Gomes will choreograph on The Sarasota Ballet. “Having performed as a guest artist with The Sarasota Ballet twice last Season, I was delighted when Iain approached Marcelo to commission a new work,” says Joseph Volpe, Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet. “This World Premiere is an amazing opportunity for our audience to experience Marcelo’s artistry in a new way and an amazing opportunity for our dancers to work with such a talented choreographer of the future.” While Gomes’ stellar reputation in the dance world has primarily revolved around his artistry as a dancer, his chorography has likewise garnered much applause and respect, with critics such as Brian Seibert of The New York Times praising his 2015 ballet AfterEffect as a work that “looks like the product of a choreographer with a well-stocked toolshed.” Closing the program is the Company premiere of George Balanchine’s Theme and Variation, an intensive development of the classic ballet lexicon, and intended, as Balanchine wrote, “to evoke that great period in classical dancing when Russian ballet flourished with the aid of Tchaikovsky’s music.” With its glittering costumes the ballet transports audiences to the heyday of the Russian Imperial Ballet at the Maryinksy Theatre. Metropolitan will be accompanied by a full orchestra at the Sarasota Opera House and performed 1 – 2 December 2017.
Continuing Sarasota’s Circus tradition and bringing the spirit of the holidays to all, Matthew Hart’s John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker will enchant audiences, December 15 – 16, 2017 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and accompanied by live music. Set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic and beloved score, the ballet entwines the history of John and Mable Ringling with E. T. A. Hoffman’s classic The Nutcracker. With designs by Peter Docherty, the ballet creates a loving tribute to the Ringling Brothers and the Greatest Show On Earth in a wonderful holiday family event. John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker was hailed by Carrie Seidman of the Herald Tribune as an “over-the-top” production that “works beautifully, giving a fresh injection of life to a more than century-old ballet.”
Commencing The Sarasota Ballet’s 2018 Winter Season is Program 4, Moving Identities, at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 26 – 29 January 2018. The program features Paul Taylor’s Airs, a beautiful and flowing piece, choreographed to the baroque music of G. F. Handel. While more classical than many of Taylor’s baroque works, its weight and fluidity as well as its shifting and spiraling patterns highlight Taylor’s passion and genius in Modern Dance. The second ballet of Program 4 is the revival of Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano’s Valsinhas, first performed as part of the 2013 production of Theatre of Dreams, and performed with on stage live music. The ballet is an exciting and unusual example of Graziano’s young choreographic voice and is performed with a gender split cast, encouraging audiences to attend multiple performances so as to appreciate either the all male or all female cast. Closing Moving Identities is the return of Robert North’s Troy Game, performed this season for the first time in Sarasota with both an all male and all female casts. Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times wrote that “beneath its goofy exterior Troy Game is an innovative blend of acting and movement that looks like the purest of pure dance pieces.” Originally created for just a male cast, over the past few years North has decided to adapt the ballet so as to allow both split gender casts to perform the work. “Watching different casts perform the same ballet is always a wonderful aspect of dance, as it allows the audience to see and appreciate the nuances each individual dancer brings to the role,” says Webb. “The compliment of both Ricardo’s and Robert’s gender divided ballets in one evening adds a dramatic and unusual element to this, and it will encourage our audience to return in the same weekend to see these ballets and witness how the different casts affect both the emotion and choreography of each work.”
Over the past several Seasons The Sarasota Ballet has presented companies such as Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Smuin Ballet, and Program 5, February 23 – 25, 2017, sees this tradition continued with Ballet Hispánico’s first visit to Sarasota, Florida. Founded in 1970 by Venezuelan American dancer and choreographer Tina Ramierez, the Company is now directed by Cuban-American Eduardo Vilaro, a former dancer with Ballet Hispánico. This Manhattan based company explores the diversity of Latino culture through a fusion of Classical, Latin, and Contemporary dance powered by theatricality, athleticism and passion. Natasha Nesic wrote, in her November 2016 review, that “Ballet Hispánico’s skill lies in rendering its culture universally accessible, bringing together themes that we can all identify with.”
Opening the 2018 Spring Season, is Dreams of Nature, featuring Sir Frederick Ashton’s triumphant masterpiece The Dream and David Bintley’s incredible ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café. Performing 2 – 3 March 2017 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and accompanied by a full orchestra, this production represents another milestone for The Sarasota Ballet. Choreographed on the greatest British male classical dancer, Sir Anthony Dowell, the renowned ballet historian David Vaughan wrote that ‘It has come to be seen as one of Ashton’s masterpieces, another of the great ballets of his maturity on the subject of human nature.” Ashton created the ballet as a part of a special Royal Ballet celebration to commemorate the quarter centenary of Shakespeare’s birth and as Maxim Boon wrote for Limelight Magazine, “Ashton’s astonishing power to transmute movement into music is all the more impressive as he expertly communicates Shakespeare’s narrative, achieving a blissful synergy between choreography, musicality and story telling.” ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, choreographed by Birmingham Royal Ballet Director David Bintley, is set to the music of composer Simon Jeffes, founder of the Penguin Café Orchestra, and features a colorful host of animals seeking shelter from a storm at the Penguin Café. The animals portrayed are all endangered species which act as the key behind the ballet’s quite prophetic message of environmental awareness. When discussing the ballet with the Birmingham Post in 2013, Bintley explained that “I had this image of Noah’s Ark, full of these half animals, half people. Then I found a book called the Doomsday Book of Animals, about extinct species, and the first thing I saw was the creature originally called a penguin, although it turned out to be a great auk, which is now extinct. My Noah’s Ark became a metaphor for the salvation of animals, and humans too.”
Closing the 2017 – 2018 Season is Program 7, Great Masters of Dance, featuring Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading and Sir Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand. Originally choreographed in 1975 on American Ballet Theatre, The Leaves are Fading is a romantic and sweeping ballet and one of Tudor’s purest dance works. In Judith Chazin-Bennahum’s book The Ballets of Antony Tudor, she describes the work as a “rhapsodic expression of couples in love” and a ballet that “re-established Tudor’s pre-eminent position as a great choreographer at American Ballet Theatre.” Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times exclaimed that “The Leaves Are Fading becomes a special elegy, an autumnal remembrance of multiple facets of young love when it is dewy but not intoxicated.” The evening culminates with Ashton’s tragically beautiful Marguerite and Armand, epitomizing Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev’s iconic partnership. Danced to Franz Liszt’s ‘Piano Sonata in B minor,’ the ballet takes its inspiration from the nineteenth century novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, concentrating on the play’s tragic essence. It’s intense and mesmerizing choreography was noted by Fonteyn as “a passion more real than life itself.” Marguerite and Armand was first added to the Company’s repertoire during its 25th Anniversary Season and The Sarasota Ballet remains the only American ballet company to perform this masterwork. Great Master of Dance will be accompanied by a full orchestra at the Sarasota Opera House and performed 28 – 29 April 2018.