Director Iain Webb chose a much more modern triple bill for his latest production, which included one company premiere and two revivals.
The Sarasota Ballet has won a reputation of performing works of the most influential and important ballet choreographers.
Under the directorship of Iain Webb, the company dancers have been praised for their artistic excellence and attention to choreographic detail. Earlier this season the company premiered “Theme and Variations,” one of the most admired ballets created by George Balanchine. Later this season they will reach another milestone as they perform Sir Frederick Ashton’s “The Dream.”
This past weekend, Webb chose a much more modern triple bill, including one company premiere and two revivals. “Moving Identities,” performed at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, opened with Paul Taylor’s “Airs.” The curtain rises to reveal three male and three female dancers onstage. George Frederick Handel’s baroque score begins and the dancers create fluid and seamless movement, shifting in and out of breathtaking shapes and patterns. Most modern dance is stereotypically full of grounded and heavy movement but “Airs” has a certain lightness that was interpreted beautifully by the Sarasota Ballet dancers. Victoria Hulland and Kate Honea, who are rarely seen dancing side by side, were in perfect timing and seemed to compliment each other wonderfully. Kristianne Kleine, shining throughout the evening as the company’s modern muse, performed a challenging adagio with grace and fullness. Ricardo Graziano, by far the strongest of the three male dancers, partnered Hulland effortlessly in a playful and romantic pas de deux.
Next up was the revival of Graziano’s “Valsinhas.” Premiered in 2013 and performed by an all-male and all-female cast, both genders got another chance again this season. Friday evening was the female cast, consisting of five dancers accompanied by Pianist Thomas Pandolfi. Again Honea, Hulland and Kleine proved that they can shed their pointe shoes and easily adapt to a much more contemporary style. However, Danielle Rae Brown and Elizabeth Sykes, both part of the original cast and sidelined because of injury, were certainly missed. Nonetheless, the playful interactions between dancers and pianist were delightful and well received by the audience.
Closing the evening was Robert North’s “Troy Game,” set to a percussion-based score by Robert Downes. The all-male cast (female casts performed in different shows) showcased their athleticism, stamina and individuality. Wilson Livingston and newcomer Filippo Valmorbida were standouts, but no one could seem to top Logan Learned’s triple tour en l’air. The comedy continued throughout curtain calls and brought the audience to their feet with roaring applause and laughter.
It’s safe to say that the Sarasota Ballet has proved they can conquer any style of dance, with or without tutus and pointe shoes.