Monday, March 24, 2008

Sarasota Ballet has ambitious plans for next season

I got a sneak peak at the Sarasota Ballet Company's upcoming season last Friday at a special dinner before the opening night of "Vespri, Grosse Fuge and Elite Syncopations" at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The sad part, though, is I can't really tell you what it is yet until the "official" season announcement later on in April (due to pending legalities the company is ironing out). What I can say is that artistic director Iain Webb, who has already created an ambitious season during his first year with the company, is kicking it up a few steps higher with plans for 15 shows for the 2008-09 year. That's nine more than this year!

Thirteen of the shows will be new to the company and two season favorites from this season will return (which I'm very excited about). Another exciting tidbit is that one of the shows for the upcoming season will be held at the newly renovated Sarasota Opera House.

Back to last weekend's show, which was a sight to see. I really enjoyed "Grosse Fuge" more than I thought I would. The piece, choreographed by the highly respected Hans van Manen of Holland who was in attendance Friday, was very contemporary and visually stunning against a stark white backdrop that turned from "warm" to "cool" with great use of lighting. It was like watching a work of art at the Tate Modern Museum of Art (a very chic modern art museum in London) come to life.

"Elite Syncopations" had a fun, lively dance hall appeal featuring the ragtime music of Scott Joplin and others. But it seemed odd watching it performed without a backdrop. The stage wings were removed to make room for the live musical ensemble (a first for the ballet, I hear), leaving the backstage area open for all to see. But the costumes were very colorful and festive — even the ensemble was decked out in stripes and funky hats. I would have rather liked to see the ensemble dressed in the standard black tie, but it was a good show.

Overall, it was another nice evening at the ballet. Stay tuned to and the Bradenton Herald for the official season announcement on the upcoming Sarasota Ballet season.
— January Holmes

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