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Although Program 2 of Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Fall Season 2020 is chock-full of Balanchine favorites, something about it feels a bit underwhelming and skeletal. In general, the dancers are very careful with choreography that typically invites one to be more daring, to push the music, to push physical limits.

We also see too little of stronger company dancers Ellen Overstreet and Ricardo Graziano. They both make appearances, Overstreet in the First Movement of “The Four Temperaments” (“4 Ts” for short) and Graziano in the title pas de deux of “Who Cares?”, but the glimpses leave me wanting more.

It would have been especially nice to have seen Graziano cast in the “Liza” solo. He has such a charismatic presence, one that complement’s Janae Korte‘s cooler, more reserved composure in the pas de deux. Mind you, Korte is a (very recently promoted) coryphée taking on a principal role, and she performs it quite well. She seems more at ease dancing with her partner than in her solo, though, in which she plays the jazzy off-kilter hip movements a bit safe. In “4 Ts” she is lovely in the Third Movement which better suits what seems to be her more natural disposition. 

Like Korte, Lauren Ostrander has just been moved up the ranks to coryphée and is featured in the same ballets. In contrast, Ostrander is quite extroverted both on and off the stage. Being cast in the quirky Second Movement of “4 Ts” and what is known in the ballet space as “The Turning Girl” of “Who Cares?” seems to reflect her personality and technical talents.

It is nice to see Artistic Director Iain Webb giving opportunities to the younger dancers in his company. It provides himself, the dancers, and the audience the luxury of watching how they further develop roles as they themselves gain more real life and stage experience. Korte and Ostrander are two to keep an eye on.

Katelyn May is the darling of the program in both “Donizetti Variations” and the 2nd Movement of “Western Symphony”. In the former, the solo is the perfect opportunity to show off how well she articulates her feet. Partnering with Yuri Marques is at times shaky, but redeems itself in the series of double pirouettes / tours en l’aire en pointe. Marques’ presence also is inconsistent; we can note all too clearly when he is about to embark on something that requires more focus. 

In “Western Symphony” May and Ricki Bertoni are absolutely endearing in the adagio. There is such an ease to her dancing – her turns, her arms, her face; how can Bertoni’s character not be enamored with her?

The company definitely shines more in Ashton works, but this is to be expected considering their long-standing dedication to the British choreographer. Still, the moments and dancers highlighted here are worth seeing. 

Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Program 2 streams through November 24. For more information about that program and the final one scheduled for their Digital Fall Season 2020, check out the calendar below.

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