Born in Yorkshire, England, Iain Webb started ballet at the age of 14 and moved to London at 16, where he trained for 2 years with The Rambert School of Ballet and a year at The Royal Ballet School. He further spent a year as an apprentice with The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, where he was offered a full time position.
During his 18 years with both The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet, his main principal repertoire included: Ashton’s The Dream (Oberon and Bottom), The Two Pigeons (Young Man), La Fille mal Gardée (Colas and Alain), Cinderella (The Small Sister, Dancing Master and Napoleon), Tales of Beatrix Potter (Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Pigling Bland), Balanchine’s Prodigal Son (The Son), Bintley’s The Snow Queen (Kay), Fokine’s Les Sylphides (Poet) and Petrushka (Petrushka), MacMillan’s Different Drummer (The Doctor) and Manon (Client), van Manen’s Five Tangos, Wright’s productions of Coppelia (Franz), Swan Lake (Prince and Benno) and The Sleeping Beauty (Blue Bird), and Baryshnikov’s production of Don Quixote (Sancho Panza).
In 1996 Webb retired from The Royal Ballet but was invited back as a guest artist to give three farewell performances at Covent Garden as the Small Sister in Ashton’s Cinderella. After retiring as a dancer, he was invited by Matthew Bourne to be Rehearsal Director for The West End, L.A. and Broadway Seasons of Swan Lake and continued to work with Bourne on his production of Cinderella.
In 1999 Webb was asked by Tetsuya Kumakawa to join his newly formed K-Ballet Company in Japan as Ballet Master and, 2 years later, was appointed Assistant Director. During this time, he worked with Kumakawa on building the company into one of Japan’s leading ballet companies. He also worked with many international stars including Adam Cooper, with whom he co-directed The Adam Cooper Company and organized their tour to The Kennedy Center. Likewise, he co-produced with Johan Kobborg the London performances of Out of Denmark and staged Roland Petit’s Carmen Pas de Deux for Alessandra Ferri and Julio Bocca for American Ballet Theatre’s 65th Anniversary Gala.
Throughout Webb’s career he has produced and directed many international Gala performances, presenting dancers from Royal Danish Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet. He has been guest teacher for White Oak Project, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, as well as teaching master classes and workshops for all the major ballet schools in England. In 2013 he became an Ashton Associate for the Sir Frederick Ashton Foundation.
Iain Webb was appointed as The Sarasota Ballet’s third Director in 2007. With his background, experience and close personal relationships with some of the biggest names in the dance world, Webb has taken The Sarasota Ballet to an unprecedented level of national and international recognition. Together with his wife Margaret Barbieri, Assistant Director and former principal of The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Webb has maintained a diverse repertoire that includes works by world-renowned 20th Century choreographers as well as some of the most sought after choreographic talents of today.
Much of Webb’s success is, in part, attributed to the resurrection of Frederick Ashton ballets. A prolific 20th Century British choreographer, Ashton’s ballets have, until recently, been rarely performed in America and many were on the brink of being lost forever. Webb and Barbieri together have put The Sarasota Ballet on the map nationally and internationally due to the precision and expertise of Ashton ballets that they introduced into The Company’s repertoire. Gerald Dowler with The Financial Times London said “Webb and his former-ballerina wife Margaret Barbieri have, in a few years, given this small American company the world’s most extensive Ashton repertoire.”
In the short 9 years with The Company, Webb has introduced 136 new ballets into the repertoire, 23 of which are ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton: an impressive feat recognized by critics, historians and ballet enthusiasts worldwide. The New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay recently said, “The Sarasota company’s meticulous, juicy performance makes Ashton’s “Enigma” newly expressive. In particular, this is a marvelously musical company.”
Webb celebrates a decade as Director of The Sarasota Ballet in The Company’s 2016 - 2017 Season.