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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 3 weeks ago

Sarasota Ballet captivates with Paul Taylor performances

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The ballet's fourth digital program featured "Company B" and "Brandenburgs."
by: Sara Rachon Dance Critic

What a difference a year can make. Last January, the Sarasota Ballet debuted Paul Taylor’s “Brandenburgs” to a full house at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. This past weekend, a virtual version was released as part of the Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Program 4.

The all-Taylor program also included the upbeat “Company B,” and we heard from the repetiteur and former Paul Taylor company member Michael Trusnovec. 

“Brandenburgs” was one of the most memorable premieres from last season and was just as visually pleasing digitally. Set to Bach’s Brandenburgs Concertos 3 and 6, the piece was performed brilliantly by every cast member, from principal to ensemble.

Danielle Brown, Katelyn May and Ellen Overstreet were dynamic as a trio and while dancing with Ricardo Graziano. Each brought a uniqueness to their solo sections, and Overstreet in particular seemed to master the Bach musicality.

Graziano partnered each of the women organically and commanded the stage during his solos. The ensemble men leaped in unison, with Daniel Pratt standing out as the strongest in the bunch. 

“Company B” is equally as vibrant yet less classically inclined. It was created on the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1991 and set during World War II. From the program notes, “In a seminal piece of Americana, Paul Taylor recalls that turbulent era through the hit songs of the Andrews Sisters.”

Every emotion is present as “Company B” alternates between fun-loving swing dancing and silhouettes of soldiers collapsing to the ground. Highlights included Ricki Bertoni in “Tico-Tico,” Elizabeth Sykes and a hilarious barrage of men in “Rum and Coca-Cola,” and Ivan Spitale with his wide-eyed cast of women in “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!”

The most unforgettable was “There will Never be Another You,” danced by Kate Honea and Richard House. The lyrical movements were accompanied by a sense of absence, loss that was heart wrenching and breathtaking. 

Although there were no toe shoes or tiaras in this program, it was wonderful to see the dancers embody the Taylor style. Equally wonderful to see is how the Sarasota Ballet is evolving during this rare time in history — each digital program bringing additional company members back to the stage and allowing us to continue to enjoy the beauty of dance.

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