The Sarasota Ballet is the Gulf Coast of Florida’s only professional ballet company. In 1987, The Sarasota Ballet was founded by Jean Allenby–Weidner as a presenting organization with the goal of becoming a full resident ballet company, which was achieved in 1990 with the appointment of the first Artistic Director. However it wasn’t until January 2007 that her dream was fully realized, when The Sarasota Ballet announced the appointment of the new Director, Iain Webb. Mr. Webb’s background, experience and close personal relationships with some of the biggest names in dance world have taken The Sarasota Ballet to a higher level of national and international recognition.
Together with his wife Margaret Barbieri, Assistant Director and former principal of The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Mr. Webb has introduced eighty eight new ballets into the repertoire, including ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Dame Ninette de Valois, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Antony Tudor, Matthew Bourne, Hans van Manen, Christopher Wheeldon, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Will Tuckett, and Johan Kobborg. Many of these ballets have rarely been seen in America, and never before in Sarasota.
In 2010, Mary Anne Servian, the former Mayor of Sarasota joined the team as Managing Director and together they have formed a sound foundation to secure the future of The Sarasota Ballet and to fulfill Mr. Webb’s vision of giving the Company its own unique identity and carve a place in the history of American dance.
Born in Africa, Jean Weidner has been a Principal Ballerina, a choreographer, the founder of ballet companies and ballet schools in Indiana and Florida, and a major supporter of the arts, and she has earned applause, appreciation and honors for each of her roles. In 1987, she founded the Sarasota Ballet as a presenting organization and only three years later her dream of a resident ballet company was realized with the appointment of the first Artistic Director, Eddie Toussaint.
Sarasota’s Designing Women Boutique is the most recent of her endeavors and the one to which she presently devotes most of her considerable talents and energies.Weidner co-founded it with Diane Roskamp and Margaret Wise in 2001. The business has been so successful that in early 2005, the shop acquired its own, expanded space in the Roskamp Center for the Arts and Humanity at 1226 North Tamiami Trail.
Weidner’s honors range from “Artist of the Year” (Noverre Choreographic Society, Germany) to “Women in Power” (National Council of Jewish Women, Sarasota, Florida.) She was elected to the Sarasota Community Video Archive Hall of Fame for her contributions to the community in 1997. In Sarasota, she has served on the board of the Sarasota Opera, The Asolo Theatre Company and the Sarasota County Arts Council.