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The Sarasota Ballet announces its 2023-2024 Season

Sarasota, FL (April 10, 2023) –Following the breaking news of his 10-year contract renewal with The Sarasota Ballet, Director Iain Webb announces today the 2023-2024 Season, which includes World Premieres, Company Premieres, works by renowned choreographers, and Sarasota favorites. With this announcement, Webb continues to showcase not just his mastery of the triple bill, but also defines his take on the state of Ballet today – it’s classical and modern, beautiful, and terrifying, and relevant now more than ever in today’s society.

New repertoire works for the Company include a new ballet by Jessica Lang, Edwaard Liang’s The Art of War, and a world premiere by Gemma Bond. Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano returns with some of his most acclaimed works and a world premiere, which will be his 11th one act ballet for the Company. Renowned as the ‘Father’ of Ballet in America, George Balanchine, is showcased through Theme and Variations, Who Cares?, and Emeralds from his masterpiece, Jewels. Mentor and a significant source of inspiration to Webb and Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri, Sir Frederick Ashton, comes to life with both humor (Varii Capricci), drama (Dante Sonata), and swiftness (Sinfonietta). And Webb continues to bring back beloved works by Johan Kobborg (Salute), Sir Kenneth McMillan (Las Hermanas), Paul Taylor (Company B), Twyla Tharp (In the Upper Room), and Christopher Weeldon (The American).

“This is an important Season not just for The Sarasota Ballet, but for me personally,” states Webb. “Having the unanimous support of the Board of Trustees to continue my work here in Sarasota means so very much. Audiences here in Sarasota and those who come to visit Sarasota just to see this Company expect the very best in Ballet. It’s the most extraordinary thing to feel the love and support from the community. I hope that with the work that Margaret, Joe (Executive Director Joseph Volpe), and I do every single day we continually honor and show our gratitude for the devotion this community has shown us through the years.”

Program One:
The Sarasota Ballet’s Season opens with a World Premiere by Gemma Bond who enthralled Sarasota audiences last Season with her world premiere of Excursions. Marina Harss has written about Bond’s choreography Dance Tabs that “Her style is expansive, lyrical, handsomely coordinated, with a focus on the beauty of the line of the body.” Continuing the program is Ashton’s whimsical Varii Capricci, revived from the brink of loss by The Sarasota Ballet in 2019. Esteemed dance critic and writer Anna Kisselgoff described it as “Sir Frederick fooling around, caught up in a spirit of fun. It is that rare ballet bird – a self-parody and an honorable parody of the Royal Ballet’s own traditions.” Kobborg’s Salute with music by Hans Christian Lumbye rounds out the opening program. With six pairs of dancers dancing through 10 variations in all manner of arrangements, Salute tells a loose story of soldiers going off to war and the girls they leave behind. Writing about the ballet during the 2011 performance by The Sarasota Ballet, dance critic Carrie Seidman wrote that the work was “fresh, funny, and styled after his Bournonville roots without being dated or derivative.”

Program Two:
The Company premiere of The Art of War, leads Program Two. Created in 2015 by BalletMet’s Artistic Director Edwaard Liang, to be driving, pulsing, and powerful, he describes it as, “...about controlling chaos.” This premiere also marks the first time that The Sarasota Ballet will work with Liang whose award winning choreography has been performed by companies around the world including New York City Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, and the Mariinsky Ballet. Choreographed during the opening stages of the Second World War, Ashton’s Dante Sonata continues the theme of war in Program Two. A synthesis of wartime symbolism and his reflections upon experiencing Franz Liszt’s piano piece of the same name—the work enraptured Sarasota audiences during it’s Company Premiere this past Season. The triple bill closes with Paul Taylor’s Company B, framing the turbulent era of World War 2 through the songs of the Andrews Sisters. Combining moments of joy and hilarity with the heavy reality of war, Taylor creates a remarkable piece that perfectly exemplifies the duality of America in the 1940s.

Program Three:
A return to regality and beauty, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations opens Program Three. This masterful work transports audiences to the height of the Russian Imperial Ballet with its glittering costumes, masterful choreography, and Tchaikovsky’s evocative score. Describing the ballet Balanchine wrote, “to evoke that great period in classical dancing when Russian ballet flourished with the aid of Tchaikovsky’s music.” The program continues with a selection of divertissements that will provide audiences with a smorgasbord of works including Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins. Divertissement is a classical ballet term meaning ‘enjoyable diversion,’ and are generally short works or extracts from full ballets that showcase dancer’s talents or display the vast depth of Ballet’s repertoire. Twyla Tharp’s, In the Upper Room, closes the December program with a “transcendent experience for both audience and performers”. Created in 1986, the work features a commissioned score by Philip Glass, Tharp’s choreography blends a diverse range of movements, including boxing, tap dance, yoga, ballet, and full-speed sprinting. The dancers are challenged to execute the complex steps, maintain precise timing, and meet the aerobic demands, all the while slowly peeling off layers of clothing to reveal the vibrant red costume below and their sweat glistened skin.

Program Four:
Celebrating 10 years as Resident Choreographer, Program 4 features a trio of works by Ricardo Graziano. Choreographed for the Company’s return to the stage after the 20 – 21 Digital Season, Sonatina is one of Graziano’s most classical works, choreographed to Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100. Following Sonatina will be Graziano’s 11th One-Act World Premiere for The Sarasota Ballet. Finally closing Program 4 will be the choreographer’s most critically acclaimed work, In a State of Weightlessness. Having received its world premiere during The Sarasota Ballet’s week-long residency at the renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, audiences and critics were captivated by its power, stating that, “Weightlessness is indeed weighted, with intensity and beauty” (Janine Parker, The Boston Globe, 2015).

Program Five:
Each year, The Sarasota Ballet presents a visiting company as a part of its Season to provide audiences with a different insight and connection to the art of dance. Previous companies have included the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Smuin Ballet and Ballet Hispánico. This Season’s presented company will be announced later in the summer.

Program Six:
The March Program of The Sarasota Ballet roars in like the proverbial lion taking audiences on a journey of sight, sound, and emotion. Opening with George Balanchine’s Emeralds, the opening ballet in the choreographer’s renowned three-act ballet Jewels, the ballet whispers French perfume with its graceful clouds of tulle in Romantic-length tutus. With a score set by Gabriel Fauré and designs by Barbara Karinska, Balanchine considered Emeralds “an evocation of France – the France of elegance, comfort, dress and perfume.” Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s tense psychological drama Las Hermanas takes a 180 degree turn from the splendor of the previous work. Profoundly musical, structurally complex, yet exquisitely refined, the ballet is based on Federico García Lorca’s, The House of Bernarda Alba. Las Hermanas is a remarkable dramatic ballet about sensuality under harsh repression as well as the emotional and violent consequences that follow. What better combination to bring audiences back from the weight of Las Hermanas than the brilliance of George Balanchine and George Gershwin? Closing Program 7, Who Cares? brings audiences through a wonderful series of solos, duets, quartets, and ensemble pieces all set to remarkable jazzy classics of Gershwin.

Program Seven:

Christopher Weeldon’s ballet, The American, leads off the last full Program of The Sarasota Ballet’s Season. Tony Award winning choreographer Wheeldon created The American to Dvořák’s wonderous string quartet, with both score and choreography bringing to life the tranquility and open sky of America’s Great Plains. Continuing on the creative relationship between acclaimed choreographer Jessica Lang and The Sarasota Ballet, Program 7 will see a new to the repertoire work that will be announced later in the summer. During the 22 – 23 Season the Company performed the World Premiere of Lang’s Shades of Spring to critical acclaim during both their Joyce New York tour and the Main Season in Sarasota. Closing the 2023 – 2024 Season will be Sir Frederick Ashton’s Sinfonietta, an exciting and fiendishly difficult abstract ballet. A ballet in three parts, its 2nd movement, the Elegy, is known as the most important section which Ashton described as, an extension of sorts of the choreographic possibilities he had explored in Monotones II. “The second movement from Sinfonietta (1967) is remote, lunar, a brilliantly formal ceremony in white picked out against surrounding darkness” – Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times.

“This Season is a perfect first step in a new chapter for The Sarasota Ballet,” says Volpe. “Iain has put together programs that not only demonstrate his unparalleled artistic ability in programming, but also continues to elevate the Company and our dancers to newer and greater heights. Myself along with everyone at The Sarasota Ballet knows that our audiences are in for another Season of breathtaking ballets and world class performances.”

Program 1   |   October 20 – 22, 2023
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

World Premiere
Choreography by Gemma Bond
Music to be announced

Varii Capricci
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Sir William Walton

Choreography by Johan Kobborg
Music by Hans Christian Lumbye

Program 2   |   November 17 – 18, 2023
Sarasota Opera House

The Art of War (Company Premiere)
Choreography by Edwaard Liang
Music by Michael Torke

Dante Sonata
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Franz Liszt

Company B
Choreography by Paul Taylor
Music by The Andrews Sisters

Program 3   |   December 15 – 16, 2023
Sarasota Opera House
Accompanied by the Sarasota Orchestra

Theme and Variations
Choreography by George Balanchine
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Les Lutins
Choreography by Johan Kobborg
Music by Henryk Wieniawski and Antonio Bazzini

In the Upper Room
Choreography by Twyla Tharp
Music by Philip Glass

Program 4   |   January 26 – 29, 2024
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

Choreography by Ricardo Graziano
Music by Antonín Dvořák

World Premiere
Choreography by Ricardo Graziano
Music to be announced

In a State of Weightlessness
Choreographed by Ricardo Graziano
Music by Philip Glass

Program 5   |   March 8 – 11, 2024
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

The Sarasota Ballet Presents
Guest Company soon to be announced

Program 6   |   April 5 – 6, 2024
Sarasota Opera House
Accompanied by the Sarasota Orchestra

Choreography by George Balanchine
Music by Gabriel Fauré

Las Hermanas
Choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan
Music by Frank Martin

Who Cares?
Choreography by George Balanchine
Music by George Gershwin
Music arrangement by Hershy Kay

Program 7   |   April 26 – 27, 2024
Sarasota Opera House

The American
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon
Music by Antonín Dvořák

Ballet to be announced
Choreography by Jessica Lang

Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Malcolm Williamson

Box Office: 941.359.0099
Phone: 941.359.0099
5555 North Tamiami Trail  Sarasota , FL  34243