When a tremendous passion for playing music is combined with the Sarasota Ballet dancers’ enormous talent — it’s one of those equations where one plus one equals three. And the dancers always prefer live music to recordings, which is why this year’s Theatre of Dreams program, May 3 to May 5, should be a step above the previous years. Director Iain Webb gives five dancers the opportunity to showcase their hand at choreography and, this year, it features live music.
“It brings a richness to the performance, but it also adds a level of spontaneity,” says principal dancer Logan Learned, in his first attempt at choreographing in Theatre of Dreams.
Learned’s piece, “Scene de Ballet,” is a farce and comedic take on dancers in the studio before taking a class. He was inspired by real-life.
“Seeing how different people get ready for the day is interesting because there are those who are very hardcore and come in early with a whole routine,” he says, “and others who sit around and just wait for class to start.”
He’ll emphasize these differences with a mostly classical style incorporating sight gags. His pianist and violinist will be on stage. Incorporating musicians in an on-stage performance is typically rare for ballet, yet it’s par for this year’s Theatre of Dreams.
Principal dancer Ricardo Graziano is enjoying an exciting year for his choreography — “Symphony of Sorrows,” from last year’s Theatre of Dreams, will be used in the 2013/2014 season; a premiere of a new Graziano piece will also take place. His work for this year’s program has yet to be named, but it will feature one pianist playing 25 works by Franz Schubert (all average around 60 seconds). Professional choreographer Nacho Duato’s style inspired his contemporary piece. Initially he planned for all men, but he’s recently added women to the cast.
“I’m keeping the exact choreography, but I’m having the girls dance male steps — and they are loving it,” he laughs. “I picked tough ladies to do it.”
Soloist and veteran choreographer Ricki Bertoni’s piece, “Ragtop,” is vastly different from the electronic-based, color-blocked piece from last year. This year, his cross between classical ballet and modern will feature female dancers in black slinky dresses, bobs, red lips and white gloves. His men will wear white T-shirts and bowler hats. This year’s performance is Fosse-meets-Fred Astaire and features Scott Joplin’s music.
“It’s the oldest cool music there is, really,” he says.
He hopes to have his sultry dancers hanging around by a stand-up piano to give more of a “rinky-dinky” feel.
Kate Honea’s three-section piece, “Baroque and Blues,” will also be different from the choreography audiences have come to know. This year, there will be no props or plot, and it will feature classical ballet with jazz music by composer Claude Bolling as the standout — Honea will have piano, drums, bass and a flute. She assures that her piece will still have the characteristic Honea personality, even though her piece is classical.
“This is my background,” she says of her use of classical choreography. “So, instead of doing something more theatrical, I wanted to show my love for ballet — my beginnings.”
Coryphee dancer and previous choreographer Jamie Carter’s four-movement piece featuring 24 dancers, “Concordium,” will feature a quartet playing from the boxes of FSU Center for the Performing Arts. With that many dancers, it’s hard to also fit the musicians on stage. There’s more partnering compared to last year’s piece he choreographed for nine women.
Carter thinks the live-music element gave them a narrower choice of music, but that “it was really helpful creatively because you may choose a composer or instruments you hadn’t thought of before,” he says.
“And everyone’s music is different, so it will be really great for the audience to have such a broad range,” he says.
IF YOU GO
Theatre of Dreams
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 3; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, May 5
Where: FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail
Cost: $30 to $90
Info: Call 359-0099
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