The Sarasota Ballet was founded in 1987 by Jean Weidner Goldstein as a presenting organization with the goal of becoming a full resident ballet company, which was achieved in 1990 with the appointment of the Company’s first Director, Montreal-based choreographer Eddy Toussaint. Integrating the dancers of his existing ballet company, The Ballet de Montréal Eddy Toussaint, into the emerging Company, Toussaint launched The Sarasota Ballet with much of his own choreographic work, such as his Florida Suite and Cantates. Additionally, together with Goldstein, he oversaw the first students of Dance – The Next Generation, the Company's celebrated and fully scholarshipped program for at-risk children.
Following a Season under the leadership of Jean Weidner Goldstein as Interim Director, Robert de Warren, former Director of Ballet at Teatro alla Scala Milan and Northern Ballet, took the mantle of Artistic Director. During his thirteen years with the Company, de Warren likewise focused on bringing his own choreographic creations to stage, creating 24 ballets including works such as Madam Butterfly and Last Call: The Dance. Additionally de Warren brought in ballets by other choreographers, as well as commissioning new works from artists such Jim Buckley and Pavel Fomin.
In January 2007, The Sarasota Ballet announced de Warren's retirement and the appointment of Iain Webb, who would take the helm as Director. That first Season would revolutionize The Sarasota Ballet and set the Company on a path to both national and international recognition. Heavily inspired by his career with The Royal Ballet and combined with his close personal relationships with some of the biggest names in the dance world, Webb brought extraordinary ballets to the Sarasota stage by some of the great choreographers of the 20th century.
Together with his wife Margaret Barbieri, Assistant Director and former principal of The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Webb has introduced 163 ballets and divertissements through the 2021 - 2022 Season. This new repertoire has included works by some of the greatest choreographers in the dance world, such as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Michel Fokine, Sir David Bintley, Sir Matthew Bourne, and Christopher Wheeldon, to name only a few. Several of these ballets have received their American premieres with The Sarasota Ballet, and the Company has been integral in bringing rarely seen ballets to today’s audiences. In addition, The Sarasota Ballet has continued to push the art form forward through commissioning new works, from both budding choreographers within the Company and established choreographers around the globe.
The Sarasota Ballet’s expansive repertoire, coupled with the athleticism and artistry of the Company’s dancers, has brought the Company national and international acclaim. With rave reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Dance Europe, Dancing Times and numerous other publications, The Sarasota Ballet has been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, at City Center and the Joyce Theater in New York City, and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.
In 2016, the renowned Joseph Volpe, former General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, took on the role of Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet. His mission has been to bring the organization's administrative staff and financial foundation to a level that matches the Company's artistic excellence. Over the past 5 years, Volpe has expanded the organizational structure of The Sarasota Ballet and strengthened the Company's future.
Together, Iain Webb, Joseph Volpe, and Margaret Barbieri continue to grow The Sarasota Ballet both in its achievement and reputation.
To infuse our community with the highest quality and diversity of dance in America.
We enrich lives, captivate emotions and strengthen community through the art of dance.