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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 2 weeks ago

Sarasota Ballet shines day and night

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The second program of the season highlights two very different works.
by: Sara Rachon Dance Critic

Friday evening and downtown Sarasota was abuzz; a line of eager audience members was wrapped around Pineapple Avenue. The Sarasota Ballet was back at the Sarasota Opera House this past weekend doing what it does best – performing a mixed bill celebrating diverse and brilliant choreographers.

Program 2, Day and Night, included Sir Peter Wright’s “Summertide” and Twyla Tharp’s “Nine Sinatra Songs.” Following last month’s first live debut in almost two years, the dancers appeared stronger, more precise and dynamic.

“Summertide” was a lost ballet that was recovered and first performed by the Sarasota Ballet in 2015. The curtain opens on the first movement revealing a stunning set and costume design by Dick Bird. Ricardo Rhodes stood out among the men and Marijana Dominis among the women during the bright and lively first and third movements. Wright’s choreography is technically challenging and visually pleasing with notes of Balanchine and Ashton style.

The highlight of the ballet is the second movement pas de quatre, which was created for the Sarasota Ballet’s assistant director, Margaret Barbieri. Danielle Brown was partnered beautifully by Rhodes, Juliano Weber, and Thomas Leprohon. Brown was pure grace when she danced alone, and while being passed from one partner to the next. The shapes the four made throughout were exquisite and the transitions seamless.

Day turned to night as stage lights darkened and the ladies changed from pointe shoes to heels. In “Nine Sinatra Songs” Tharp turned Frank Sinatra’s famous songs into a glamorous combination of ballet and ballroom. Perhaps her most successful work, she showcases seven couples and the different emotions of each relationship. The Sarasota Ballet has performed “Nine Sinatra Songs” a handful of times, and Friday evening was the finest cast yet. Standing out among them were Ryoko Sadoshima and Richard House, who glided during “Strangers in the Night,” followed by the effortless, cool, and intoxicated Dominis and Ricardo Graziano in “One for My Baby (And one More for the Road).” Samantha Benoit and Ricki Bertoni were all comedy in “Something Stupid,” and Brown and Rhodes pulled out all the stops in “That’s Life.” The entire ensemble came together with tremendous energy in the finale, “My Way.”

As we embark on the Holiday Season, let us be thankful for the opportunity to gather once again and enjoy live performances!

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