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Dance Review: Graziano & Taylor

Ricardo Graziano delights audiences with choreography.

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  • | 9:12 a.m. March 30, 2015
The entire cast of Ricardo Graziano's "Shostakovich Suite" poses during the finale. Courtesy photo.
The entire cast of Ricardo Graziano's "Shostakovich Suite" poses during the finale. Courtesy photo.
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Ricardo Graziano's amazing choreographic talents were featured in the Sarasota Ballet's recent production of "Graziano & Taylor." His first-ever choreographed piece, "Shostakovich Suite," was on the bill along with his newest, "En Las Calles De Murcia" and Paul Taylor's "Company B." Graziano's two pieces showed his choreographic range with the neoclassical "Shostakovich Suite" and the more contemporary and modern "En Las Calles De Murcia." Director Iain Webb and the Sarasota Ballet are fostering Graziano's talent and he is producing incredibly incomparable work that is so good that he is creating another world premiere at Jacob's Pillow in just a few months. 

"Shostakovich Suite" makes one think of a birthday cake that is beautifully decorated with hot pink icing and tastes incredibly sweet. With the elegant sets with overhanging chandeliers, bright pink tutus designed by Bill Fenner and the stage full of incredibly talented dancers performing excellent choreography just makes you feel happy. The cast got off to a start with a few bumps with missed steps, wrong arms and sloppy lines, which is usually not the case with the Sarasota Ballet, but overall the piece was performed beautifully. The other thing that is pleasing in "Shostakovich Suite" is the fact that Graziano uses the dancers as part of the set with them posing lining the wings in elegant positions. 

Two new standouts were Paul Branco and Mirella Costa Neto. Branco performed one of the principal male roles with Victoria Hulland. He is incredibly talented and strong and has an elegant and strong partnering technique. He is one to watch and will surely grow into a strong danseur. Costa Neto had the placement of being in the back corner of the ballet (as all dancers do when they first start out), but she did not go unnoticed. She had and elegant presence and strong technique that shined from the corps de ballet.

The three principal ballerinas of Sarasota Ballet — Kate Honea, Danielle Brown and Victoria Hulland — performed the lead roles. Often times, the three would dance together as a trio, which was nice to see, because they each have their own elegant qualities and styles, but complement each other very well when dancing together. The choreography lends some very difficult steps for these three women to complete, which they did beautifully. Honea pulled off multiple fouetté en tourant turns and double pirouettes. Brown and Hulland performed en dehors and en dedans chug turns in arabesque that finished in double pirouettes and a pique turn en menèges. Also of note: Edward Gonzalez, who partnered Honea, has this fantastic ability to finish any double tour en lair or pirouette in the most perfect fifth position.

In contrast, Graziano’s “En Las Calles de Murcia,” was a more contemporary piece with flamenco-themes, dark lighting, a stark set with a multi-colored, abstract backdrop and sleek, simple, earth-toned costumes designed by Lynda Bayne and set to music by Santiago de Murcia. The piece featured six couples that each performed their own pas de deux, solo pieces and danced together as a full cast.

Even though the piece had a more somber undertone, the choreography was energetic and lively. The female dancers’ costumes became part of the choreography where they used their long skirts to create poses and steps. Many steps and positions reoccurred as themes during the piece when the dancers would throw their bodies forward, stomachs tucked with arms overhead and lifts and jumps with flexed feet.

Sara Scherer shined in this piece. She has a real knack for contemporary and modern dance and it certainly showed. Danielle Brown and Juan Gil displayed a real sense of emotional strife and angst during their pas de deux. And Logan Learned was ever-so spritely and showed incredible chemistry with his partner, Kate Honea.

The program finished with Paul Taylor’s “Company B,” which is set to songs sung by the Andrews Sisters. The piece has ten vignettes that are mostly upbeat and humorous, but with the serious undertone of World War II, which was demonstrated as the male cast would perform slow-motion depictions of front-line battle on the back of the stage near the darkened scrim.

The full cast of this piece knocked it out of the part. You can tell that they enjoy dancing it as much as the audience likes watching it. Juan Gil made the female dancers and audience members with his spot-on Elvis dance moves in “Tico-Tico.” David Tlaiye was a hoot flirting with the girls in “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” Logan Learned bobbled his head and amazed as the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B.)” Elizabeth Sykes was full of pizzazz among her male cohorts in “Rum and Coca-Cola.” And Kate Honea and Jamie Carter were full of emotion in “There Will Never Be Another You.”



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