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The Sarasota Ballet adds stirring pieces to its repetoire in 'Transcending Movement'

The company's latest program featured impressive ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, David Bintley and Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano.

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  • | 8:53 a.m. January 28, 2019
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The Sarasota Ballet, renowned as one of the country’s leading performers of Sir Frederick Ashton work, has added an impressive list of new choreography to its repertoire. 

Last weekend’s mixed bill performed at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, “Transcending Movement,” included David Bintley’s “Four Scottish Dances” and Ashton’s “Meditation from Thais” and “Varii Capricci.” The centerpiece, and greatest pleasure, of the evening was a new work created on the company by resident choreographer and principal dancer Ricardo Graziano.

The curtain opened at the sold-out theater revealing kilt-clad dancers who quickly began a witty and fun divertissement. “Four Scottish Dances,” set to the Malcolm Arnold score, was first performed by the company in 2008. Ivan Duarte and Filippo Valmorbida were remarkable in their speed and jumps and hilarious during a drunken romp. Ellen Overstreet and Weslley Carvalho made up the main couple and performed with tenderness.

Katelyn May and Ricardo Graziano perform Sir Frederick Ashton's
Katelyn May and Ricardo Graziano perform Sir Frederick Ashton's "Meditations from Thais." Photo by Frank Atura

Ashton’s “Meditation from Thais,” set to the familiar music by Jules Massenet, was a feast for the eyes. Katelyn May and Graziano looked ravishing and delivered a precise and lovely pas de deux.

Graziano’s much-anticipated premiere, featuring guest artist Marcelo Gomes, was up next and did not disappoint. “Amorosa,” opened with Danielle Brown wearing a striking red dress designed by Jerry Wolfe and Graziano. Soon several couples entered and exited the stage, stretching their bodies to the limits by producing the most expansive and stunning movements. Graziano cast his “go-to” dancers who have mastered his style but also included corps de ballet member Madysen Felber, who was superb on Friday evening. The chemistry in the final pas de deux with Brown and Gomes was brilliant. The ballet ended with rose petals falling and a rousing standing ovation.

Director Iain Webb chose to close the evening on a lighter note with “Varii Capricci” set to music by Sir William Walton. The ballet is set in a tropical climate and opens with dancers sipping cocktails around a swimming pool. Although the work is humorous, the choreography is classical and at times demanding. The four couples, and Victoria Hulland in the principal role, did a nice job of showcasing the Ashton nuances throughout. It’s Gomes, however, who carried the ballet. He strutted around the stage wearing a tight tacky outfit, shiny saddle shoes and sunglasses. In between hair fluffing and rolling his hips was a perfect pirouette reminding us of his technical excellence. In the end, neither Hulland nor Gomes found love, but Gomes did find his sunglasses.


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