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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017 3 years ago

Sarasota Ballet strives for unpredictability in new season

Entering his 11th season at the helm of the Sarasota Ballet, Iain Webb shares his thoughts on the programming.
by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

If the Sarasota Ballet can be described succinctly, it’s that it’s not an easily described ballet company. For Director Iain Webb, entering his 11th season at the helm of the Sarasota Ballet, it’s one of his main points of pride.

“I think that’s one of the things that makes the Sarasota Ballet so special,” he says. “Sometimes I have a chip on my shoulder about these things — I never like to be pigeon holed.”

It’s something he’s strived to achieve for the past 10 years, and it was a main consideration in planning the upcoming season, which kicks off Oct. 27.

“I think it’s one of the defining elements of the company,” he says. “You’ll see a young dancer and say, ‘Oh, they’d be perfect for the New York City Ballet, or the Royal Ballet. I don’t think anybody can say that about the Sarasota Ballet.”

Webb shared his insights on the upcoming season.


‘The Secret Garden’

Oct. 27 through 29, at the FSU Center for Performing Arts

Choreography by Will Tuckett

Music by Jeremy Holland-Smith


“This program is important to me. It’s our chance to bus in students from Sarasota and Manatee counties to see the company for free. It’s crucial for children to be exposed to the arts early. Plus, it’s a fun production: It has puppets and a narrator, the music is great. It was a hit when it premiered in 2014, and we’re delighted to bring it back.”

Will Tuckett’s “Secret Garden” features puppets, narration and was an audience favorite at its 2014 premiere. Photo by Frank Atura



Dec. 1 and 2, at the Sarasota Opera House


Ellen Overstreet and Ricardo Graziano in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Illuminations." Photo by Gene Schiavone


Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton

Music by Sir Benjamin Britten

World Premiere

Choreography by Marcelo Gomes


‘Theme and Variations' (Company premiere)

Choreography by George Balanchine

Music by Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky


“I’m excited to continue our relationship with Marcelo Gomes, principal with American Ballet Theatre. He’ll choreograph a world premiere for us. Our audiences are getting familiar with him, and this will show off his talents in a new way.”


‘John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker’

Dec. 15 and 16, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Choreography by Matthew Hart

Design by Peter Docherty

Music by Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky


“This take on ‘The Nutcracker’ is different than any you’ll see, and it’s a fan favorite. It almost feels like a present to the city. With people concerned about the future of the circus, this was an important one to bring back.”

John Ringling's Circus Nutcracker


‘Moving Identities’

Jan. 26 through 29, at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts


‘Airs’ (Company premiere)

Choreography by Paul Taylor

Music by George Frideric Handel



Choreography by 

Ricardo Graziano

Music by Bob Downes


‘Troy Game’

Choreography by Robert Noth

Music by Bob Downes


“Paul Taylor’s ‘Airs’ is wonderful. It’s a pure, wonderful piece of dance. We’re reviving Ricardo’s ‘Valsinhas,’ which premiered in 2013. This is a bit of a battle of the sexes — some performances have an all-female cast; others have an all-male cast. Audiences will have to come see both.”


Ballet Hispanico

Feb. 23 through 25


“We’ve been bringing in companies to showcase their talents, and this is a wonderful contrast to our style. I want to introduce audiences to a variety of styles.”


‘Dreams of Nature’

March 2 and 3, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall


‘The Dream’ (Company premiere)

Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton

Music by Felix Mendelssohn


‘Still Life at the Penguin Café’

Choreography by David Bintley

Music by Simon Jeffes


“Ashton put us on the map. One of his first ballets I saw was ‘The Dream.’ It’s been on my list to do once I felt the company was at a certain level. This was choreographed on Sir Anthony Dowell, one of the greatest male dancers of all time. I rang him up, and he didn’t even wait to hear my question — he just said, ‘Yes, Iain, you can perform it now.” 

David Bintley's 'Still Life' at the Penguin Cafe


‘Great Masters of Dance’

April 27 and 28, at the Sarasota Opera House


‘The Leaves are Fading’ (Company premiere)

Choreography by Antony Tudor

Music by Antonin Dvorak


Ricardo Graziano and Victoria Hulland perform Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Marguerite and Armand.” Photo by Frank Atura.

‘Marguerite and Armand’

Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton

Music by Franz Liszt



Choreography by 

George Balanchine

Music by Toshiro Mayuzumi


“‘Bugaku’ is something to be excited about. It’s sexy and refined and set to Japanese music. This is a really different season for us. There’s so much variety. Audiences can expect more of that. With our triple bills, there’s something for everyone. I want people to come get lost in the art form.”

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