+ Carreño Dance Fest kicks off on the right foot
After three years of lying low on Bird Key, retired Sarasota Ballet Director Robert de Warren ended 2010 with a bang.
The Carreño Dance Festival, which de Warren founded earlier this year with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) dancer José Manuel Carreño, debuted before a full house Dec. 21 at the Sarasota Opera House.
Dancing the balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet,” Carreño and longtime ABT partner Julie Kent wowed the crowd with their chemistry and elegance in a program packed with a mixed bag of performances, including provocative solos by New York City-based modern dancer Drew Jacoby and romantic duets by former Sarasota Ballet principal Lauren Strongin-Ciobanu and her fellow Houston Ballet dancer Joseph Walsh.
The muscled 5-foot-11 Jacoby, whose partner, Rubinald Pronk, was stuck in Amsterdam due to bad weather, gave edge to the inaugural dance festival with eerily powerful performances, one of which involved Jacoby dancing while trapped inside a wooden box (“Softly As I Leave You”).
And then there was 21-year-old New York City Ballet ingénue Tiler Peck, who danced Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” with boyfriend and partner Joaquin De Luz.
“Tiler does everything dancers strive to do so naturally and with such effortlessness,” says 17-year-old Sarasota dancer Dara Nicole said. “She’s amazing. She’s perfect. I just had to see her.”
+ The stiletto secret behind our SEASON shoot
It should come as no surprise that running in high heels is no small feat, much less running in high heels down a flight of stairs.
In honor of the Sarasota Ballet’s 20th anniversary season, The Observer asked six Sarasota Ballet dancers (and Sarasota Ballet founder Jean Weidner) to pose for the cover of our winter SEASON Magazine with one simple request: They run down the steps in the courtyard at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art dressed in evening gowns and high heels.
Who better to skip down stairs in stilettos than ballerinas?
Oh, wait. Pointe shoes are flat.
It was painful to watch. As photographer Barbara Banks snapped photo after photo, advising the girls to “prance more,” it became glaringly obvious that the heels needed to go.
And when they did, the dancers immediately loosened up and weightlessly frolicked down the steps.
Remember: Even Cinderella lost her footing when she ran down stairs in high heels.
+ Another year, another Perlman Music Program residency
The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast will celebrate the end of its prestigious winter residency this weekend with a grand finale concert directed by world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Perlman has led rehearsals with orchestra students for the past two weeks at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.
The Celebration Concert, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, at the Sarasota Opera House, marks the seventh year in a row that Perlman and his wife, Toby, have hosted their winter residency program in Sarasota.
Tickets are priced from $35 to $75. For more information, call 955-4942 or visit www.perlmanmusicprogramsuncoast.org.
Toronto Symphony at the Van Wezel: Bradenton resident and Grammy Award-winning violinist James Ehnes will perform with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) on his home turf next week. Ehnes, a native of Canada and featured soloist with the TSO, takes the stage at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. For more information, call 953-3368 or visit www.vanwezel.org.
‘Reasons to be Pretty’: Presented by the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training and penned by Tony-nominated playwright Neil LaBute, “Reasons To Be Pretty” is a scathing dark comedy about our fixation on beauty. Note to bleeding hearts: If LaBute’s “Fat Pig” was too cruel for your tastes, you’ll be happy to hear that “Pretty” is a touch more compassionate. The show runs through Jan. 23. For tickets, call 351-8000 or visit www.asolorep.org.