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The Sarasota Ballet Announces the 2018 – 2019 Season

Sarasota, FL (April 10, 2018) – The Sarasota Ballet’s Director, Iain Webb, announces today the Company’s 2018 – 2019 Season—A Season of Tributes, with seven programs featuring ballets by some of the most celebrated and prestigious choreographers and composers of the ballet world. This Season perfectly demonstrates The Sarasota Ballet’s dedication to performing ballets that have the same passion and authenticity on stage today as they had during their original premieres as well as a commitment to performing works by choreographers of today and of the future. The Season will see a World Premiere by Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano; as well as Company Premieres of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring; Sir Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody, Varii Capricci and Apparitions; and Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. Revivals include the long awaited return of Sir Peter Wright’s production of Giselle and Ashton’s Les Patineurs, as well as revivals of George Balanchine’s Diamonds and Stars and Stripes, Christopher Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved, Galina Samsova’s production of Paquita, Ashton’s Enigma Variations, David Bintley’s Four Scottish Dances and Graziano’s Symphony of Sorrows.

“This Season is a reflection of the purity, complexity, strength and beauty that ballet has to offer,” explains Webb. “It is also a Season of Tributes, as we pay homage and respect to many of the great artists of the Ballet World. From Centennial Celebrations of Jerome Robbins and Dame Margot Fonteyn, to anniversaries of the passing of George Balanchine and Sir Frederick Ashton, the 2018 – 2019 Season allows us to not only bring incredible ballets to the Sarasota stage, but also to celebrate this art form’s extraordinary and rich history.”

Before the 2018 - 2019 Season commences in Sarasota, the Company will return to the famed Joyce Theater in New York City 14 – 19 August, closing the Joyce’s 2018 Spring / Summer Season. For more information and tickets, please visit

The Sarasota Ballet’s first program of the Season opens 26 October 2018 at the FSU Center for The Performing Arts with a triple bill featuring the Company Premiere of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, alongside revivals of Ricardo Graziano’s Symphony of Sorrows and Galina Samsova’s production of Paquita. This program is a fitting opener to the 2018 – 2019 Season as it is a perfect example of the repertoire and values of The Sarasota Ballet, featuring classical ballets alongside modern and contemporary works, as well as choreographers of the past, present and future. Martha Graham is an American modern dance icon, one of the innovators of dance in America and a woman whose exceptional accomplishments include being the first dancer to perform at the White House, as well as the first dancer to receive the highest civilian honor—The Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. For Appalachian Spring, two true American artists collaborated to create this beloved work, Martha Graham as choreographer and Aaron Copland as composer. As Meridee Duddleston wrote, the piece tells an “American story of courage, community and innovation, portrayed through the aspirations of a newly married couple settling in Pennsylvania.” Graziano’s Symphony of Sorrows is a contemporary ballet portraying people’s reactions towards death and the loss of a loved one. As one of his first commissioned works, the ballet demonstrates Graziano’s emotional maturity, which belies his youth and set the foundation for many of the ballets he has gone on to create. Closing the evening is the grand pas from Paquita, a dazzling display of pure classical technique, set to a melodious score by Ludwig Minkus. This production by celebrated Russian ballerina Galina Samsova was originally staged for the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and offers a feast of Spanish themed dancing for the entire company.

Program 2 features the Company Premieres of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody and Jerome Robbins’ The Concert alongside the revival of Christopher Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved. Opening 16 November 2018 at the Sarasota Opera House, these performances will be accompanied by orchestra and operatic singers. Rhapsody would become Ashton’s final major work, a ballet created in honor of Ashton’s close friend HM the Queen Mother’s 80th Birthday, and choreographed on Mikhail Baryshnikov, who had requested to perform in a new Ashton ballet as a part of his guesting contract with The Royal Ballet. Set to Sergey Rachmaninoff’s renowned Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the ballet combines Ashton’s penchant for musicality, smooth lines and exquisite details in the upper body, as well as fast and meticulous footwork, with the spectacular bravura that encapsulates Baryshnikov’s artistry. Dance writer and critic Zoë Anderson described the role created on Baryshnikov “as a dazzling visitor, shooting through the ballet like a comet” contrasting the female principal role as “rich in both Ashtonian details and echoes of the classics of the Royal Ballet repertory.” Christopher Wheeldon, one of the most sought after choreographers of today, offers an intricate and poignant exploration of love with his ballet There Where She Loved. Described by dance critic Sarah Kaufman for The Washington Post as “a searing union of action, vocals and expression,” the ballet is set to songs by Frédéric Chopin and Kurt Weill. Its subtle structure and shifting tone appear in the artful repetition of specific phrases to starkly contrasting music and contexts, as his dancers meet and separate, expressing fleeting moments of joy, ebullient self-confidence, or despairing loss. Jerome Robbins’ comedic masterpiece The Concert is in part a light-hearted satire on dance as well as a comedy on human nature, with Chopin’s music enhancing Robbins’ insights into humanity and the characters on stage. This truly one-of-a-kind enchanting ballet portrays a cast of quirky and eccentric characters at a piano recital and their laugh-out-loud antics, and also demonstrates Robbins’ signature balance of physical humor and technical virtuosity. These performances of Robbins’ The Concert celebrate the centennial of Jerome Robbins’ birth, and the performances of Ashton’s Rhapsody commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sir Frederick Ashton’s passing.

The winter production, Program 3 of The Sarasota Ballet’s upcoming Season, sees three incredible masterpieces by Sir Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine performed at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 14 – 15 December 2018 and accompanied by a full orchestra. Carrying on the tribute to the 30th Anniversary of Ashton’s passing is the return of a beloved Sarasota Ballet classic, Les Patineurs, depicting a Victorian skating party that takes place on a frozen pond during a winter’s eve. The Sarasota Ballet’s performances of Les Patineurs has garnered the company great acclaim, for both the Company’s performances here in Sarasota, as well as during performances at Ballet Across America III at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and at New York City Center’s 2015 Fall For Dance Festival. After the performances at the Kennedy Center Sarah Kaufman hailed The Sarasota Ballet’s performance of Les Patineurs as “the jewel of this year’s Ballet Across America sampler.” Continuing the program is another treasured Ashton work, Enigma Variations—which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. This extraordinary work brings to life the friends and family of Edward Elgar, who likewise formed the inspirations and basis for his seminal work of the same name. Ashton used Elgar’s original 1898 score and 1929 commentary to present an imaginary gathering of Elgar and his friends at his Worcestershire home as he waits for a telegram from the celebrated conductor Hans Richter for news of his latest creation, Enigma Variations. An immediate success, famed critic John Percival wrote, “There have been plenty of ballets about love, but friendship as a subject is rare, and Ashton finds rare and moving expression for it … What a pleasure it is.” Closing this exceptional performance is the return, by popular demand, of Diamonds, the triumphant closing piece of George Balanchine’s remarkable abstract full-length ballet Jewels. With suitably diamantine costumes by Karinska, Diamonds is a glittering tribute to the 19th century grandeur and regality of Imperial Russia and a nod to Balanchine’s own heritage. Louise Levene wrote that “Diamonds joins forces with Tchaikovsky in an exultant hymn of praise to the classical ballerina,” and these performances continue the Season of Tributes by marking the 35th anniversary of George Balanchine’s passing.

The Sarasota Ballet kicks off 2019 with Program 4 featuring David Bintley’s Four Scottish Dances, a World Premiere by Ricardo Graziano, and the company premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Varii Capricci, 25 – 28 January 2019 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Bintley’s Four Scottish Dances, his second professional choreographic work, was created for a 1979 tour to Israel by the dancers of the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet. Described as a ‘picture postcard’ of Scotland, with caber tossing and wandering in the heather, this humorous and entertaining ballet for six dancers is a wonderful example of Bintley’s choreographic brilliance and wit. Program 4 also sees a World Premiere by Resident Choreographer and Principal Dancer of The Sarasota Ballet, Ricardo Graziano. This will be Graziano’s 8th full work for The Sarasota Ballet and will add to his growing choreographic catalogue which includes In a State of Weightlessness which premiered during the 2015 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and was revived this past May for Ballet West’s inaugural National Choreographic Festival in Salt Lake City. Sarasota Herald Tribune dance critic has stated that “Graziano’s ability to create integrated movement that is both original and difficult, yet still organic and fluid, is impressive.” Closing the program is the Company Premiere of Ashton’s Varii Capricci, a ballet that received its World Premiere during The Royal Ballet’s 1983 tour to New York. Choreographed to a score by the same name by William Walton, the ballet was struck with tragedy in its infancy as Walton passed away just hours after he had finished the coda for the music for the ballet. During its premiere, 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.” Created on the mesmerizing partnership of Sir Anthony Dowell and Dame Antoinette Sibley, Ashton poked fun at the reverence and admiration the couple had received and cast the “prince of English ballet classicism as a punk, its golden princess as a matron on the make.” Within this work of parody and fun is Ashton’s extraordinary musicality and choreographic genius, and as Kisselgoff wrote “Varii Capricci contains two genuine Ashton pas de deux, inventive and heart-fluttering as usual.”

Each year, The Sarasota Ballet presents a visiting company as a part of its Season in order to provide audiences with a different insight and connection to the art of dance. The Sarasota Ballet is truly honored to present the Martha Graham Dance Company for Program 5, 15 – 17 February 2019 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Founded in 1926 by contemporary dance legend Martha Graham, it is the oldest American dance company and has been recognized as “one of the great dance companies of the world” by The New York Times and as “one of the seven wonders of the artistic universe” by The Washington Post. Many of the great 20th and 21st century modern dancers and choreographers began their careers with this prestigious company, including Merce Cunningham, Pearl Lang and Paul Taylor.

The Sarasota Ballet’s Season continues with Program 6, opening 8 March at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and accompanied by a full orchestra. This program sees the much anticipated Company Premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Apparitions. Originally planned for the 2016 – 2017 Season, the premiere of Apparitions was delayed in order for greater care and time to be taken with the restoration and recreation of Cecil Beaton’s stunning sets and costumes. Choreographed in 1936, Apparitions helped to strengthen Ashton’s claim to be taken seriously in his early choreographic years and helped define his future relationship with his muse, Dame Margot Fonteyn. It also cemented his presence as a choreographer in view of the scale and complexity of the ballet, a feat more ambitious than anything he had attempted so far. Not seen since its 1987 performance in London, Apparitions opens and closes in the poet’s study, before he enters a ballroom moving through the eloquently disposed dancers in an opiate-inspired trance, futilely pursuing the unattainable L’Amour Supreme. The ensuing scene becomes a macabre nightmare before the poet kills himself in despair and is borne away in a cortege led by the girl of his morbid dreams. Celebrating Director Iain Webb’s newly acquired American Citizenship, The Sarasota Ballet revives George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, his vibrant and patriotic tribute to the United States of America. This pièce d’occasion evokes Fourth of July parades and was created as a salute to the choreographer’s adoptive country. The work is divided into five campaigns and set to musical marches by American composer John Philip Sousa. A full-company ballet, Stars and Stripes includes baton twirling, military marching and a regiment of rifle-bearing male dancers.

Closing The Sarasota Ballet’s Season is one of the great full-length romantic classics Giselle, opening 26 April 2019 at the Sarasota Opera House and accompanied by a full orchestra. Sir Peter Wright’s production is considered by many to be the greatest and most faithful production of this great work, originally choreographed by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli for the legendary Paris Opera Ballet. The crowning achievement of the romantic ballet era and an enduringly central part of the ballet repertoire, Giselle perfectly exemplifies how this art form  is a living tradition, taught, preserved, adapted, and handed down from generation to generation. The ballet tells the story of Count Albrecht who in disguise as a peasant romances a young, sensitive and frail village girl, Giselle, who falls completely in love with him and in turn rejects her jealous admirer Hilarion. Her mother and Hilarion raise concerns over Albrecht, as well as over Giselle’s delicately balanced emotions and health. Their fears are justified with the arrival of an aristocratic hunting party including Bathilde, the Count’s beautiful Fiancée. Despairing and overwrought at this revelation, Giselle descends into madness and dies. Act Two takes place near Giselle’s forest grave, haunted by the Wilis, the spirits of young girls who were betrayed before their wedding day, and their Queen, Myrtha. They exact revenge on any man who enters the forest by making their victims dance to their death. Both of Giselle’s suitors visit her grave but it is only Albrecht who is saved from death by the spirit of Giselle, the power of her love and the coming dawn.

“This is another extraordinary Season for The Sarasota Ballet,” says Joseph Volpe, Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet. “Each program features such an astonishing selection of ballets and I know that our audiences, who have grown to expect great things from this Company, will not be disappointed. The success The Sarasota Ballet has achieved and continues to achieve has been made possible by the outstanding artistic excellence of Iain, Margaret and our Dancers, and the remarkable generosity and support of our Board and our donors. We thank them for providing the resources and support that allow us to perform such prestigious ballets and provide such outstanding performances.”

Performance Schedule

Program 1   |   26 – 28 October 2018
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

Appalachian Spring (Company Premiere)
                Choreography by Martha Graham
                Music by Aaron Copland

Symphony of Sorrows
                Choreography by Ricardo Graziano
                Music by Henryk Górecki

                Production by Galina Samsova
                Original Choreography by Marius Petipa
                Music by Ludwig Minkus

Program 2   |   16 – 17 November 2018
Sarasota Opera House

Rhapsody (Company Premiere)
                Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
                Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff

There Where She Loved
                Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon
                Music by Frédéric Chopin and Kurt Weill

The Concert (Company Premiere)
                Choreography by Jerome Robbins
                Music by Frédéric Chopin

Program 3   |   14 – 15 December 2018
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Les Patineurs
                Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
                Music by Giacomo Meyerbeer, arranged by Constant Lambert

Enigma Variations
                Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
                Music by Edward Elgar

                Choreography by George Balanchine
                Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Program 4   |   25 – 28 January 2019
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

Four Scottish Dances
                Choreography by David Bintley
                Music by Malcolm Arnold

World Premiere
                Choreography by Ricardo Graziano

Varii Capricci (Company Premiere)
                Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
                Music by William Walton

Program 5   |   15 – 17 February 2019
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

The Sarasota Ballet Presents:
                The Martha Graham Dance Company

Program 6   |   8 – 9 March 2019
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Apparitions (Company Premiere)
                Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
                Music by Franz Liszt

Stars and Stripes
                Choreography by George Balanchine
                Music by John Philip Sousa, arranged by Hershy Kay

Program 7   |   26 – 27 April 2019
Sarasota Opera House

                Production by Sir Peter Wright
                Original Choreography by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli
                Music by Adolphe Adam

Subscription Tickets

Full Season Subscribers can renew their subscription now, and new full Season Subscriptions to The Sarasota Ballet’s 2018 - 2019 Season available from 14 May 2018, and Four Ballet Packages available from 4 June 2018. For information, please visit or call the box office at 941.359.0099, Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Single Tickets

Individual tickets for The Sarasota Ballet’s 2018 - 2019 Season, starting at $30, go on sale 1 August 2018 at or by calling 941.359.0099.

About The Sarasota Ballet

Since 1990, the mission of The Sarasota Ballet has been enriching lives, captivating emotions and strengthening the community through the art of dance. Under the leadership of Director Iain Webb, Executive Director Joseph Volpe and Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri, The Sarasota Ballet has received national and international recognition for its diverse repertoire of rarely performed ballets, as well as the integrity and artistry of its performances. The Company’s expanded repertoire includes works by world-renowned choreographers such as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Sir Matthew Bourne, Dame Ninette de Valois, Michel Fokine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Rudolf Nureyev, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor and Christopher Wheeldon. During Webb’s tenure, The Sarasota Ballet has been invited to perform twice at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and twice at the Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center, as well as week-long residencies at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Joyce Theater in New York. In May 2017 The Sarasota Ballet performed at the inaugural National Choreographic Festival in Salt Lake City and in August of 2018 will return to the Joyce Theater for another week-long residency.

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