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The Company’s 2020-2021 Season brings a mix of ballet favorites and Company Premieres to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Sarasota Ballet

Sarasota, FL (April 20, 2020) – Today, Director of The Sarasota Ballet Iain Webb announces the Company’s 30th Anniversary Season, opening October 2020 and running through till May 2021. The Season serves as a nod to the artistic strides The Sarasota Ballet has made over the past three decades, especially during Webb’s leadership as he begins his fourteenth year as Director. Season highlights include seven Company Premieres; several long-awaited revivals; and, closing the Season, a program dedicated to, and featuring works by three of the greatest female choreographers who impacted the history and evolution of ballet in the 20th century. The centerpiece of the Season is the much-anticipated Company Premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton’s full-length choreographic adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, to be performed at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in December. Repertory favorites such as Will Tuckett’s Changing Light and George Balanchine’s Serenade also see their return. In addition, continuing The Sarasota Ballet’s tradition of presenting a visiting dance company, the Mark Morris Dance Group will perform at the Sarasota Opera House in April, bringing Morris’ distinctive, musically driven works to the stage.

“Major anniversaries such as these can serve just as much for profound reflection and contemplation, as they can for celebration” says Webb. “It has been an enormous privilege to guide the creative path of this Company over the past thirteen years. To have been able to bring so many phenomenal works into our repertoire that I had only dreamed of when I first started with The Sarasota Ballet, and to have honored ballet history and revived such important works – especially those created by Sir Fred – has been, and continues to be, a tremendously fulfilling experience. That said, we look to the future as well, collaborating with today’s major choreographic forces such as Sir David Bintley and Mark Morris, and continuing to nurture up-and-coming talents in the Company, and in the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory as well as The Sarasota Ballet School. This year, we embrace the passion and dedication to ballet that has fueled this Company for the past three decades, and will hopefully continue to do so for decades to come.”

The Sarasota Ballet’s 30th Season commences with Program 1, opening 23 October 2020 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. The curtain rises to George Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations, a cheerful series of dances set to music from the opera Don Sebastien. Created in 1960 for the New York City Ballet, Donizetti Variations first served as part of NYCB’s “Salute to Italy” program, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Italy’s unification. The program continues with the return of Principal Dancer and Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano’s Amorosa. With women in striking red dresses and men in lengthy formal black coats, this visually striking ballet is set to extracts from Antonio Vivaldi’s Cello Concertos. Amorosa is Graziano’s most recent choreographic piece, and these performances mark its return to the stage for the first time since in premiere. 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 the ‘40s. Company B captures Taylor’s mastery of emotional scope and ability to convey complex, nuanced messages through dance.

The Season continues with Program 2, opening 20 November 2020 at the Sarasota Opera House. Returning to Sarasota after many years, Ashton’s Birthday Offering opens the program with its exquisite choreography. Birthday Offering was originally created in 1956 in honor of The Royal Ballet’s 25th anniversary and created on the company’s 7 legendary ballerinas. A grand, sumptuous affair, Birthday Offering takes seven couples through a series of variations set to Alexander Glazunov’s music, arranged by Robert Irving, and concludes with an ensemble waltz. Next, is the Company Premiere of Ashton’s Dante Sonata which was described by Roslyn Sulcas of the New York Times as, “an embattled expressionist encounter between good and evil with no clear outcome.” Ashton’s creation came about via his reflections upon experiencing Franz Liszt’s piano piece of the same name—itself composed on Liszt’s reactions to Dante Alighieri’s pivotal masterwork. A violent clash between the forces of Light and Darkness serves as the allegorical subject matter for Ashton’s bold, visually striking wartime critique. Closing Program 2 is the long-awaited premiere of Sir David Bintley’s The Spider’s Feast, a humorous and inventive piece choreographed to Albert Roussel’s score, Le Festin de l'araignée. A story ballet at its heart, the ballet centers on a predatory spider lurking in the garden as insects battle and play amongst themselves. Reviewing the ballet for the Telegraph, Nicholas Dromgoole wrote, “We are conquered, disarmed and happily surrender to its lighthearted insouciance.” The ballets of Program 2 pay homage to their British heritage, each in a remarkably unique fashion.

Program 3 premieres 18 December 2020 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall with Sir Frederick Ashton’s Romeo & Juliet. This highly anticipated Company Premiere brings the grandeur and passion of Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy to the Sarasota stage. Choreographed in 1955 to Sergei Prokofiev’s score, with great success, for the Royal Danish Ballet, Ashton focused on the “intimate tragedy of two young people caught in an all-consuming passion” (David Vaughan, Frederick Ashton and his Ballets, 1977). Reviewing the ballet in 1988 for the New York Times, esteemed dance critic Jack Anderson wrote that, “Sir Frederick effectively shatters artifice, contrasting the innocuous peasants with brawling street fighters, and his leading characters are vividly conceived.” Infused with Ashton’s musicality and penchant for beautiful and heart-fluttering pas de deux, Romeo and Juliet evidences Ashton’s choreographic genius and ability to portray the nature of humanity through dance.

Program 4 sees a return to the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, opening 26 February 2021, with the return of Peter Darrell’s Othello, Will Tuckett’s Changing Light, and a yet to be announced third work. Peter Darrell’s beloved adaptation of the famed Shakespeare classic, Othello, returns to the Sarasota stage for the first time in almost a decade. Condensed to a one-act ballet, Darrell’s Othello exemplifies the choreographer’s notable ability to shape an intricate narrative through dance motion. Set to the first movement of Franz Liszt’s “Faust Symphony”, Othello maintains the dramatic depths of the source material through deep characterization and stunning choreography. To close this first program of 2021, Will Tuckett’s iridescent Changing Light, commissioned in 2013 for The Sarasota Ballet by Director Iain Webb, illuminates the stage once more. Paired with sparkling original music by Jeremy Holland-Smith, Changing Light sets dancers clad in shades of orange and blue swirling around one another, suggesting the warmth and luminescence of the Sarasota sunset.

The Season continues with Program 5, 26 March 2021 at the Sarasota Opera House, and opens with George Balanchine’s breathtakingly beautiful Serenade. Its 1935 premiere signified Balanchine’s first American choreographic production and has become one of his most iconic and beloved ballets. It would also become the first ballet Balanchine choreographed to the orchestrations of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Serenade courses through the four movements of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings – albeit not in their original order – as twenty-six blue-attired dancers mesmerizingly flow together on stage. Following Serenade is the Company Premiere of Mark Morris’ The Letter V, marking the first time The Sarasota Ballet will perform a work by the esteemed choreographer. Originally premiered in 2015 by the Houston Ballet, The Letter V sets Morris’ dynamic approach to dance and distinctive musicality to Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 in G, a pairing that Alistair Macaulay stated, in his New York Times review, “exemplifies the same qualities as Mr. Morris: high spirits, terrific humor, a strong inclination to the pastoral and a keen instinct for structural experimentation.” Finally, rounding off the triple bill will be Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations, a ragtime-powered “dance concert” created for The Royal Ballet in 1974 with MacMillan at his most whimsical. The curtain opens as Elite Syncopations’ cast dance wildly on a virtually bare stage. On a rostrum at the back, a band plays compositions by Scott Joplin as the ballet’s characters flirt, dance, and vie with each other for the limelight. There is no real plot; just a succession of rags, cakewalks, and slow drags which demand virtuosity and comic flair. Upon the ballet’s arrival in the United States in 1976, Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times wrote that Elite Syncopations is, “Mr. MacMillan in full verve. That’s entertainment.”

Program 6 sees The Sarasota Ballet present for the first time the renowned Mark Morris Dance Group, performing 9 – 10 April 2021 at the Sarasota Opera House. Founded in 1980 by dancer and choreographer Mark Morris and initially performing out of Seattle, Washington and New York City, the company quickly garnered national and international attention as a result of Morris’ expressiveness and unique musicality. After several years’ tenure as Director of Dance of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, Belgium, followed by a five-year partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov titled the White Oak Dance Project, Morris would finally move his dance company into its first permanent home, the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, in 2001. While his dance group tours internationally, Morris has since largely retired from performing, but continues choreography for his company, infusing his remarkable ingenuity and musical affinity into his works. The Sarasota Ballet is excited and honored to bring this great Company back to Sarasota.

Program 7 acts as both the closing program of The Sarasota Ballet’s 30th Anniversary Season and the start of a multi-year project focusing on Female Choreographers. The triple bill opens 30 April 2021 at the Sarasota Opera House and is dedicated to three female choreographers who played vitally important roles in the evolution of ballet in the 20th Century. Opening the program is the Company Premiere of Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend, which retells the account of the infamous Lizzie Borden in a deeply character-focused ballet created for American Ballet Theatre in 1948. The score Morton Gould composed for Fall River Legend weaves throughout the narrative, which illustrates a version of the grisly events, and saw both Gould and de Mille decide to take poetic license with the story’s end. Today, Fall River Legend is considered by many scholars as de Mille’s greatest masterpiece. Next, Dame Ninette de Valois’ signature Checkmate returns to the stage. Created in 1937 for what would later become The Royal Ballet (of which de Valois was founder), Checkmate sees the conflict between Love and Death brought to life through a game of chess, giving human emotion and life to the chess pieces. The audience watches on as the Black Queen stalks her victim, the aging Red King, in her quest for power and death. Checkmate is viewed by most as the cornerstone of British ballet and a stunning example of de Valois’ rare, yet enveloping and dramatic chorography. Closing this extraordinary program is the intended Company Premiere of Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Biches (“The Does” or “The Darlings”). A 1924 neoclassical creation for the Ballets Russes with music by Francis Poulenc, Les Biches is, in the 1930 words of Sir Frederick Ashton, "…new, and yet it is, at the same time, composed entirely of classical movement with a new expression.” The Sarasota Ballet is currently working to contact the owners of the Bronislava estate in order to finalize permission. This Company Premiere is set to be the perfect end to Program 7 and The Sarasota Ballet’s 30th Anniversary Season.

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

Program 1   |   23 – 25 October 2020
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

Donizetti Variations
Choreography by George Balanchine
Music by Gaetano Donizetti

Choreography by Ricardo Graziano
Music by Antonio Vivaldi

Company B
Choreography by Paul Taylor
Music by the Andrews Sisters

Program 2   |   20 – 21 November 2020
Sarasota Opera House

The Spider’s Feast
Choreography by Sir David Bintley
Music by Albert Roussel

Dante Sonata
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Franz Liszt

Birthday Offering
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Alexander Glazunov, Arranged by Robert Irving

Program 3 – Sir Frederick Ashton’s Romeo & Juliet   |   18 – 19 December 2020
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Romeo & Juliet
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton
Music by Sergei Prokofiev

Program 4   |   26 February – 1 March 2021
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

Choreography by Peter Darrell
Music by Franz Liszt

Changing Light
Choreography by Will Tuckett
Music by Jeremy Holland-Smith

Yet to be announced third ballet

Program 5   |   26 – 27 March 2021
Sarasota Opera House

Choreography by George Balanchine
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Letter V
Choreography by Mark Morris
Music by Joseph Haydn

Elite Syncopations
Choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan
Music by Scott Joplin

Program 6 – Mark Morris Dance Group   |   9 – 10 April 2021

Sarasota Opera House

The Sarasota Ballet Presents
Mark Morris Dance Group

Program 7   |   30 April – 1 May 2021
Sarasota Opera House

Fall River Legend
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Music by Morton Gould

Choreography by Dame Ninette de Valois
Music by Arthur Bliss

Les Biches
Choreography by Bronislava Nijinska
Music by Francis Poulenc


Subscription Tickets

Full Season Subscribers can renew their subscription now, new full Season Subscriptions to The Sarasota Ballet’s 2020 - 2021 Season will be available starting 18 May 2020, and Four Ballet Packages are available starting 15 June 2020. 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 2020 - 2021 Season, starting at $35, go on sale 3 August 2020 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 returned to the Joyce Theater for another sold out week-long residency.

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