The Sarasota Ballet Makes Jacob's Pillow Debut This Weekend
The Sarasota Ballet, acclaimed for their vitality, versatility, and elegance kicks off its 25th anniversary season with an exclusive seven-show Jacob's Pillow debut in the Ted Shawn Theatre, this weekend, August 12-16, including an added Thursday matinee at 2pm. The dynamic company performs Christopher Wheeldon's fluid, joyous ballet The American, set to the Dvorák quartet of the same name; Sir Frederick Ashton's celebrated, artful trios Monotones I and Monotones II; and a world premiere by resident choreographer and principal dancer Ricardo Graziano, set to music by Philip Glass.
"A triumph of courage, enterprise, enthusiasm, artistic importance, stylish dancing," and "choreographic felicity" (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), The Sarasota Ballet regularly astonishes audiences with the breadth and depth of its repertoire. Established in 1990, the Florida company has gained "a national and international profile" (Brian Seibert, The New York Times) for mastering classical works by George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, and Agnes de Mille in addition to more contemporary works by Twyla Tharp, Matthew Bourne, and Christopher Wheeldon. Best known for presenting Sir Frederick Ashton's classic ballet works, The Sarasota Ballet hosted a four-day long Ashton festival in Sarasota in 2014 "drawing Ashtonites from both the U.S. and United Kingdom" (Robert Greskovic, The Wall Street Journal) honoring eight of Ashton's works, several of which were not seen for decades.
The program opens with Christopher Wheeldon's The American, inspired by the sense of space and tranquility of the Great Plains and open sky of the U.S. countryside. The work reflects the serenity of rural American landscape, expressed through Wheeldon's signature arching lifts and sweeping arabesques. English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is the Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet and the 2015 Tony Award-winning director and choreographer of the Broadway production An American in Paris. Wheeldon was the first Artist-in-Residence of New York City Ballet, where he ascended to achieve the status of "one of the world's most celebrated ballet choreographers" (Brian Seibert, The New York Times). Wheeldon regularly choreographs for leading dance companies, including Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet.
Sir Frederick Ashton's two non-narrative, modernist pas de trois, Monotones I and Monotones II, and perfectly matched to Erik Satie's exquisitely haunting score, "Trios Gymnopedies". Applauded for its "supreme examples of adagio choreography," (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), Monotones II was choreographed in 1965, the year before Monotones I, and mirrors the smooth images found in its companion piece. Ashton, "one of the ballet world's greatest choreographic treasures" (Carrie Siedman, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune) choreographed for the Royal Ballet and emerged one of the most influential dance figures in the 20th century. Ashton's style is distinctive for its épaulement (the way the head and shoulders are held), fleet footwork, and combination of elegance and technical demands.
The program concludes with the world premiere of In A State of Weightlessness by The Sarasota Ballet's 28-year old resident choreographer, Ricardo Graziano. Brazilian-born Graziano is also a principal dancer in his prime, and has held the position of resident choreographer since April 2014. In A State of Weightlessness, Graziano's seventh creation for the company, is set to the second movement of the "Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra" by the renowned composer and pianist Philip Glass. Glass won the 2015 Glenn Gould Prize, only the eleventh recipient of this prestigious honor, following some of the most celebrated musicians of the past century.