If there is a trifecta in ballet, Sarasota Ballet, under the brilliant direction of Iain Webb, produced the winning ticket in their diversified performances titled Masters of Dance. Three distinct programs, Sir Frederick Ashton'sRhapsody, Christopher Wheeldon's There Where She Loved, and Jerome Robbins' The Concert, offered a dazzling showcase of sophistication, heart play and comedic dance.
Rhapsody, with glowing music from Rachmaninov's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" was the stunning opener with an exquisite set of brilliant blue-hued backgrounds and a Grecian inspired archway with lofty pillars. It is told that Sir Ashton was asked to come out of retirement by Princess Margaret to create a piece for her mother's 80th birthday. Her mother, being Queen Elizabeth, meant a spectacular exhibition had to be conceived. Ashton gave life to this flamboyant piece d'ocassion, featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov. This would be Ashton's final major work.
Sarasota Ballet brought in Mathias Dingman, Principle of Birmingham Royal Ballet, who was superb in strength, elegance and precision. His facial expressions added even more to the depth of his bravura performance of skillful footwork, broad jumps and linear lines. Sarasota Ballet's Principal Katelyn May was the embodiment of a beautiful flower, nimble enough to swayed by a gentle breeze, yet strong enough to show her graceful strength. Apprentices Yuri Marques, Anna Pellegrino, Ivan Spitale, Lenin Valladares, and Paige Young brought dimension to this beautifully designed production.
Sopranos Michelle Giglio and Stella Zambalisprovided haunting vocals featured in There Where She Loved. The program notes described Wheeldon's choreography best in stating this piece is an "elaborate exploration of partnering, what men do to women and how Wheeldon imagines they feel about it." The vocals provided an earful expression of joy and sorrow of love found and then lost as the dancers provided the visuals of how it appears men so easily come into a woman's, or in this case, several women's lives at once, and then seemingly depart, without a thought of the hurt that is left behind. Over a dozen dancers graced the seven vignettes of this ballet featuring some of the familiar faces of Kate Hones, Christine Windsor,Danielle Brown, Ellen Overstreet, Amy Wood, Ricardo Rhodes and Resident Choreographer, Ricardo Graziano. The costumes were particularly flowing and colorful in this piece.
Rounding off the diversity of Sarasota Ballet's offering was their comical presentation, The Concert. Staged in a series of sketches and featuring Cameron Grant on the piano, we watch as a peculiar host of concertgoers come to enjoy a pianist's work. There we meet everyone from the serious music lover and people lost in the love of music, to those who are wrapped up in themselves and are there to see or be seen. Loved Victoria Hulland hugging the piano who maintained her sitting position while her chair was whisked away. Cameron Grant was suave and debonair as the pianist. The capers and shenanigans that followed included a haughty woman trying on different hats, unhappy until she finds just the right one, only to pass by another woman wearing the identical hat. Then we witness a procession of choreographed umbrellas, dancers sporting butterfly wings, and an audience favorite, a ballet gone wrong with several of the dancers forgetting their place and bumping into each other. Costuming was fun and whimsical and made for a grand and entertaining ending to yet another stellar performance by Sarasota Ballet.