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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 1 month ago

Sarasota Ballet's digital performance was spot-on Balanchine

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Second performance of the season focuses on the work of the "Father of American Ballet.”
by: Sara Rachon Dance Critic

The Sarasota Ballet released Digital Program 2 last weekend with an all-Balanchine bill. George Balanchine, who arrived in the United States from Russia in 1934, is known as the “Father of American Ballet.”

Program 2 features excerpts from five of his most celebrated works. An extras video is also included complete with an interview with the repetiteur, rehearsal footage and a surprise at the end.

The program began with excerpts from “Donizetti Variations,” a light-hearted ballet originally performed by the New York City Ballet in 1960. Katelyn May was superb as the principal woman – lyrical in the pas de deux and spot on in her solo sections. Yuri Marques showed promise as the principal man, just slightly hesitant in the difficult double tour section in the male solo.

The crowd favorite “Tarantella” followed. Sandra Jennings, the repetiteur, mentioned in her interview that the ballet was created for Patricia McBride and Edward Villella. Complete with tambourines and gypsy costumes, Kate Honea and Yuki Nonaka did not disappoint. They gave a cheerful and exciting performance with the appropriate amounts of humor sprinkled in. Next was a nod to the Wild West with the second movement of “Western Symphony.” Rik Bertoni was perfect as the laidback cowboy. He and May performed the adagio section with charm and were complemented by four refined Corps De Ballet women.

Richard House and Janae Korte perform "The Four Temperaments."

A contrast to the upbeat program was one of Balanchine’s iconic Black and White ballets, “The Four Temperaments.” Ellen Overstreet and Daniel Pratt reprised their roles in the 1st Theme with attack and greater maturity. Younger dancers Lauren Ostander and Janae Korte are two to watch and all three women were exquisite in the Balanchine style.

No better way to close out the program than with Balanchine’s tribute to George Gershwin, “Who Cares?” Kate Honea and Ricardo Rhodes set the tone in a dreamy rendition of “The Man I Love” Pas de deux. Korte once again stood out in the “Who Cares?” Pas De Deux with Ricardo Graziano. Both performed with ease and personality, and hopefully we will see them paired together again in the future. Although we missed the entire ensemble in the finale, “I’ve Got Rhythm,” the four principals compensated with boundless energy.

We learned how the Sarasota Ballet dancers have adapted to rehearsals with masks and Zoom instruction during the extras video.

It was fascinating to see some of the process, including Sandra Jennings demonstrating steps in her living room. Jennings noted that the success of the program was largely due to the teamwork of the dancers and artistic staff. The program was indeed a success, especially for Corps De Ballet members Korte and Ostander, who proved themselves during the performance.

Director Iain Webb surprised the two with a promotion to Coryphee at the end of the extras video. 

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