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In Step: Marcelo Gomes to perform with Sarasota Ballet

American Ballet Theatre Principal Marcelo Gomes has performed all over the world. Now he’s immersing himself in the Sarasota ballet as a guest performer.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. February 22, 2017
Marcelo Gomes.  Photo by Frank Atura.
Marcelo Gomes. Photo by Frank Atura.
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Marcelo Gomes was first introduced to the Sarasota Ballet in January. The principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, performed with ABT in “A Celebration of Two Worlds.”

But he says the company’s    reputation preceded it.

“There is definitely a buzz about the Sarasota Ballet,” says Gomes. “They’re already getting so much recognition. Their performance at the Joyce [Theater] in New York was really successful, and that’s not easy to do with the volume of companies that come through.”

Kate Honea and Marcelo Gomes.  Photo by Frank Atura.
Kate Honea and Marcelo Gomes. Photo by Frank Atura.

Now, he says he’s confirming that reputation firsthand. After the performance in January, Sarasota Ballet Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri and Director Iain Webb were so impressed they invited him to return March 10 and 11 — this time as a guest artist in “The Two Pigeons” in the company’s tribute to Sir Frederick Ashton.

For the past two weeks, Gomes has immersed himself in the world of the Sarasota Ballet — meeting the dancers, forging relationships and learning a new ballet.

“As dancers, we have a critical eye,” he says. “My colleagues had seen them in New York, and they told me how well they danced. Being here, I see how right they were — I see all the work they put in and the passion they have.”

We spoke with Gomes about learning a new ballet, immersing himself in the Sarasota Ballet and his love for Ashton’s work.


“Maggie had a vision of me dancing the part of the young artist. I watched the ballet, and I thought it was so great, and her instincts were completely right. In a lot of Ashton ballets, there’s pretty mature acting. They seem like simple stories — two birds that reunite as lovers — but there’s so much more to it. I found the role had many different layers and textures, and that really appealed to me.

Victoria Hulland and Marcelo Gomes.  Photo by Frank Atura.
Victoria Hulland and Marcelo Gomes. Photo by Frank Atura.

“Any time a dancer has the opportunity to dance an Ashton ballet, I would say do it. It enriches not only you, but also the whole group. Ashton’s ballets are a team effort; it’s really about the big picture.


“This is a love-triangle story. My character wants to experience something else in his life that he doesn’t have, and he leaves his girlfriend to be with a gypsy woman. Eventually, he comes back, with the pigeons, realizing he’s made a mistake and asks for forgiveness.

“When you're young there is a period when you ask yourself if the grass is greener. I like playing characters that, throughout the course of an evening, go on that journey and learn some kind of lesson.


“I’m not the type of dancer who comes in and wants to just do things my way. I want to know exactly what the energy of the company is and exactly how they work. They’re such hard workers and amazing dancers. The caliber is really high. One thing we all have in common is that love for dance. I can feel the passion and the hunger — everyone is soaking up everything.


Marcelo Gomes.  Photo by Frank Atura.
Marcelo Gomes. Photo by Frank Atura.

“Iain and Maggie know this ballet forward and backward, but they were so open to communication. If there was a different emotion, or I want to touch the dancer this way, or turn her head a little bit more toward me, they were so open, as long as it had the same feeling as it did before.


“As an Ashton fan, it’s great. You wonder what they would’ve thought of your performance. So you think about them and their legacy, as well as those who have worked with them, and you try to honor that and still interpret it and make it your own.


“The Sarasota audience is probably not as familiar with my dancing, which is exciting and freeing in a way. I can really let go and tap deep into my emotions and lay it on stage. That’s exciting for any dancer.”


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