Sarasota Ballet's fan favorite slips into character

 

Sarasota Ballet's fan favorite slips into character

 

Date: November 23, 2010
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor

 
 

Logan Learned fans: This one’s for you.

We know you’re out there. We know you come in droves to every one of Sarasota Ballet’s Saturday matinee performances.

We know you’re mostly women who meet for lunch before each show and that you can can’t get enough of Logan Learned, the sprightly 5-foot-4 soloist who drew praise from a New York Times dance critic in 2008 for his performance as The Blue Boy in Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Les Patinuers.”

We know you call yourselves “Logan’s Ladies.” Even Learned knows it.

“I’ve met a few of them,” Learned says of his fan club. “They’re very, very nice. I think they think of themselves as my second mothers.”

And, like mothers, they don’t like it when their boy doesn’t get enough stage time. The group is so devoted to Learned they recently complained that the dancer wasn’t in enough matinee shows.

“I’m touched,” says Learned, a 24-year-old California native. “I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because when I dance, something about my personality translates on stage. Whatever role I do, whether it’s goofy or abstract, I try to make it as real as possible. If someone says this character is mean, I try to think of something that would make me mean.”

Learned’s meanness, however, is not what has his audiences buzzing. It’s the character roles he easily inhabits, his unusual impishness and sheer dexterity.

“He’s diminutive,” says Judy Bronstein, a Saturday matinee subscription holder. “You can pick him out easily. He has a unique carriage. And for a small man, he’s extraordinarily strong. His dancing is so clean. It’s like a step above everybody else. When we watch him, he has this charming smile and look about him. Everybody just wants to hug him.”

Learned fans will get a double dose of the dancer next month when he performs in two of the ballets on the “Modern Greats” bill — Will Tuckett’s “Spielende Kinder” and Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room.”

Learned likens the vigorous 40-minute Tharp ballet to running a race.

“It’s interesting to see how far you can push yourself,” he says. “Those who’ve danced it before have said there’s a point in the ballet when you feel like you can’t go on — and then you do. It’s the same thing you hear from marathon runners. I’m excited to feel that.”

“In the Upper Room,” which premiered in 1986 in New York City, has never been performed in Sarasota.

The ballet, which has a galloping pace that Tharp herself describes as relentless, is performed by two groups of dancers: the ballet group, or “bomb squad,” and the “stompers.”

Clad in sneakers and baggy jumpsuits, the stompers face off against the bomb squad throughout the length of the show, culminating in a grand finale that, in Learned’s opinion, will generate endorphins in the audience as well as in the dancers.

“People are going to feel like they’re a part of this ballet more than anything,” says Learned, who was cast in the ballet group. “It’s one of those shows that grabs you and pulls you out of your seat.”

This is great news for Learned’s insatiable “ladies.”

“I hope I don’t disappoint them,” he says of his fans. “I never thought dancing on stage could move people so much. I’m honored and appreciative of all their well wishes.”

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If You Go

The Sarasota Ballet will perform “Modern Greats” –– a triple bill that includes Christopher Wheeldon’s “The American,” Will Tuckett’s “Spielende Kinder” and Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” –– at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. For tickets, call 359-0099 or visit www.sarasotaballet.org.

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at hkurpiela@yourobserver.com.

 

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