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Sarasota Ballet Director Iain Webb wins prestigious dance award

Webb has been honored with the British National Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Sarasota Ballet Director Iain Webb displays the National Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement that he received in London on June 3.
Sarasota Ballet Director Iain Webb displays the National Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement that he received in London on June 3.
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Sarasota Ballet Director Iain Webb got some good news when he was on the road with the company for a London residency earlier this month: Webb won the 2024 British National Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Webb was able to pick up his award in person because he in town rehearsing with the Sarasota Ballet for their "Ashton Celebrated" performances at the Royal Opera House, where they shared the program with the Royal Ballet from June 4-9.

Webb was presented with the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement by Graham Watts and Dame Monica Mason at London's Coronet Theatre on June 3.

The National Dance Awards have been handed out since 2000 by the U.K.'s Critics' Circle, made up of more than 60 dance writers and critics. This year, more than 300 companies, choreographers, performers and other artists were nominated for the awards.

Webb's honor wasn't just in recognition of his efforts to elevate the Sarasota Ballet since he and his wife, assistant director Margaret Barbieri, took over the reins in 2007. The award also spotlighted his achievements as a former first soloist with London's Royal Ballet and other star turns during his career.

Commenting on the award, Webb said in a statement, "To be recognized so highly for the work I have done throughout my career, especially as Director of The Sarasota Ballet, is very humbling."

He continued: "I thank all of those who helped to make this possible, especially Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri, who has been so instrumental in shaping The Sarasota Ballet into the company it is today, and Executive Director Joseph Volpe, whose leadership has continued to take us to the next level on the international arts scene. I am so very grateful for the support of the critics and for this extraordinary recognition.”

Webb and the Sarasota Ballet traveled to London this month for their first international residency at the invitation of Kevin O'Hare, director of the Royal Ballet. The residency, which was well-received by patrons and critics, is the latest example of the company's rising global profile. 

Under Webb's stewardship, the Sarasota Ballet has performed at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in the Massachusetts Berkshires, twice at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and several times in New York City, most recently in August 2022 at the Joyce Theatre. 

Although the Sarasota Ballet is known for its expertise in the works of Sir Frederick Ashton, the late choreographer and director of the Royal Ballet, it has a wide-ranging repertoire. Among the choreographers whose works it performs are George Balanchine, Johan Kobborg, Kenneth MacMillan, Jessica Lang, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon, to name a few.

Along with its professional dance company, the Sarasota Ballet has a well-established education program that offers youth and adult classes as well as pre-professional training at the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory. 

Its summer intensive attracts hundreds of students from around the nation to study with the faculty of the Sarasota Ballet School, which uses the American Ballet Theatre national training curriculum. 



Monica Roman Gagnier

Monica Roman Gagnier is the arts and entertainment editor of the Observer. Previously, she covered A&E in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Albuquerque Journal and film for industry trade publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

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