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Review: Ashton ballets bring spirits up in Digital Program 6

Triple bill by Sarasota Ballet preserves original choreography, revives lost, forgotten works.

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  • | 4:40 p.m. April 28, 2021
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The Sarasota Ballet released the sixth Digital Program of the 2020-2021 season this past weekend. The triple bill was comprised of a splendid array of Sir Frederick Ashton ballets. Although the dancers are versed in many different choreographic styles, the Ashton style is arguably the strongest from Corps de Ballet to Principals.

Kate Honea and Ricardo Graziano in Sir Frederick Ashton's
Kate Honea and Ricardo Graziano in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Facade." (Frank Atura photo)

Director Iain Webb and Assistant Artistic Director Margaret Barbieri have worked tirelessly to preserve the original choreography of Ashton’s ballets; they have even revived some of his lost or forgotten works.

“Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales,” is one of the lost ballets that The Sarasota Ballet revived and first performed in 2011. Elegant scenery and costume designs by Sophie Fedorovitch suggest a ballroom setting in post - World War II Britain. Victoria Hulland brings sophistication to the Principal role; her footwork is crisp and epaulement generous. The ballet is nonnarrative, yet I imagine the Principal male (Ricardo Rhodes) is her suitor. They are joined by a member of the ensemble (Daniel Pratt) for a few beautiful choreographic moments.

Barbieri mentions in her commentary during the Program that “A Walk to Paradise Garden” was once described as “ is no mere divertissement but a ballet in miniature, saying as much in a few minutes as many full-length ballets.” Indeed, the pas de deux, inspired by Romeo and Juliette, pulls at the heartstrings. The young lovers, Danielle Brown and Ricardo Graziano, danced with passion and abandon until they are wrapped in the arms of death.

Webb knows how to bring the viewers spirits up as he closed the Program with “Façade,” Ashton’s clever collection of popular dances from the 1920s and 30s. The company has performed “Façade” several times and this year’s cast is the strongest yet. Standouts include Rik Bertoni and Yuri Marques in “Popular Song” and Kate Honea and Graziano in “Tango Pasadoble.”

The finale includes the entire ensemble bursting with energy.



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