Sarasota Ballet Announces Programs and Schedules for 2011-12 Season

After celebrating a spectacular 20th Anniversary Season, The Sarasota Ballet prepares to enter its third decade and fifth season under the leadership of Iain Webb not only with the announcement that Webb has signed for a six year contract, but also with performances at The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, October 12 - 16, 2011."

"It is a great honor to be invited to collaborate with Suzanne Farrell and to represent Sarasota's performing arts in such a prestigious venue", says Webb. This collaboration features dancers from both companies with live orchestra in performances of George Balanchine's Diamonds in Washington, D.C. and expands to include Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons for performances in Sarasota and Clearwater, Florida, November 18-19, 2011.

Season Opener. The subscription season in Sarasota opens on October 28, 2011 with a very different collaboration between the professional company and its affiliated Sarasota Ballet School in the American premiere of Tchaikovsky's Ballet Fantasy, in which choreographer Matthew Hart (Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company) imagines the composer interrupting his best-loved ballets (Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Nutcracker), unwittingly causing comic chaos!
This light-hearted ballet is matched with Peter Darrell's highly dramatic Othello and a world premiere set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and choreographed by one of The Sarasota Ballet's talented dancers, Ricardo Graziano. "When I saw the workshop of Shostakovich Suite, I was immediately impressed by the clarity, musicality and energetic quality of Ricardo's choreography," shares Webb. "The richness of the classical technique, paired with the chic costume designs by Bill Fenner, makes this a grand opening for the season."

Othello, choreographed to the haunting music of Franz Liszt's A Faust Symphony, takes a fresh look at Shakespeare's tragedy through the eyes of the villain Iago. In this fast moving and terse drama, the jealous Iago's evil machinations bring the ballet to a tragic conclusion with the destruction of the once powerful hero, Othello.
This program, and all subsequent engagements in the FSU Center for Performing Arts, will consist of five performances scheduled Friday at 8 pm, Saturday 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sunday 2 pm and 7 pm.

The Great Masters. Two undisputed master choreographers of the 20th century are paired once again by The Sarasota Ballet, this time in a performance with the renowned Suzanne Farrell Ballet. The two companies will have performed Balanchine's Diamonds (from Jewels) the month before in Washington, D.C. and will add Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons to the program for their appearances in Florida.

Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons, first performed by The Sarasota Ballet in Webb's inaugural season in 2007, has become a crown jewel in the company's repertoire. Performing with live orchestra, The Sarasota Ballet takes the poetic experience of this ballet to an entirely new level.

Diamonds, from the triptych Jewel s and one of George Balanchine's most famous ballets, features music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky from his Symphony No. 3 and was created for Suzanne Farrell in 1967.
All performances in Sarasota and Clearwater will be performed to live orchestral accompaniment. Emil de Cou, music director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, will be conducting the orchestra in Florida, as well as Washington, D.C.

Two performances, 2 pm and 8 pm, on November 18, 2011 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall are followed by an 8 pm performance on Saturday November 19, at The Ruth Eckerd Performing Arts Hall in Clearwater, Florida. Clearwater performance tickets will be sold at

From the Park to the Prairies. Appropriate for families and ballet lovers of all ages, romance and joyful fun prevail in The Sarasota Ballet's December performances featuring Sir Frederick Ashton's Les Patineurs, Christopher Wheeldon's The American, and Agnes De Mille's Rodeo for three performances in the Sarasota Opera House, December 9-10, 2011.

Les Patineurs was introduced to Sarasota audiences in 2008 receiving rave reviews and praise from New York Times dance critic, Alistair Macaulay. In it Ashton has created a magical world at play with scenes commonly found in an ice-rink over Christmas season. The characterization is vivid with couples romantically skating hand in hand, the bravura "blue boy" dazzling the crowd with his dare devilish spins, beginners clinging onto whatever is in front of them to avoid the humiliation of falling on ice. All of these moments are wrapped up in gorgeous 1930′s scenery and Edwardian fur-trimmed outfits.

The Sarasota Ballet proudly presents the Sarasota premiere of Agnes De Mille's Rodeo set to a score by Aaron Copland evoking life in the pioneer West. Rodeo is the touching story of a tomboy in search of love. The cowgirl, who de Mille admitted was based on herself as a young woman, is a misfit among the men and women in her community. De Mille has said, "She acts like a boy, not to be a boy, but to be liked by the boys." Hers is a bitter lesson, but she learns it at the ballet's denouement when she puts on a dress and goes to the hoe-down. She finds her man, and she finds him through dancing. The ballet features bravura dancing for the men in a unique style derived from horseback riding and cattle roping. A work by turns robust and tender, full of optimism, Rodeo is a celebration of the pluck and spirit of the American character.
Christopher Wheeldon's The American, set to the music of Antonin Dvo?ak composed during his American sojourn, is one of the early works that established Christopher Wheeldon as one of the most sought after choreographers today. It was premiered by Carolina Ballet and in 2004 by Images of Dance Company in London. In 2010, The Sarasota Ballet introduced this ballet to its audiences. The open spaces and tranquility of the American west inspired Dvorak, and subsequently Wheeldon as reflected in his fluid and mesmerizing choreography.

Made in America. Celebrating the rich variety of dance created in America and inspired by the unique American spirit, The Sarasota Ballet presents a program featuring George Balanchine's Donizetti Variations, Salute by Johan Kobborg, and Will Tuckett's Spielende Kinder in five performances, January 27- 29, 2012 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
The abstract ballet, Donizetti Variations, carries many of Balanchine's most distinctive stylistic touches, and typifies his highly musical approach. Choreographed for a principal couple and a corps de ballet of six women and three men to the music of the lively music of the renowned bel canto opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, Donizetti Variations has proved popular with many international companies, as well as Sarasota audiences.
The Sarasota Ballet enjoys a close relationship with one of the most highly acclaimed dancers of the ballet world today, Johan Kobborg. While still a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, Kobborg has increasingly expressed himself through choreography. In their own first performance of Kobborg's original choreography, The Sarasota Ballet will add Salute to their repertoire .
Last season British choreographer Will Tuckett set a revised version of his Spielende Kinder on The Sarasota Ballet much to the delight of our audiences. As our gift to Sarasota, we bring back this lively romp with all the joy of children at play.

A Knight of The British Ballet. During the tenure of director Iain Webb, The Sarasota Ballet has gained an international reputation for the quality and frequency of performances by the great British choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton. Webb's passion for the ballets of Ashton has also caught on with The Sarasota Ballet audiences. This series of five performances honors the knighted choreographer, Sir Fred, and includes the US premiere of his Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, February 24 26, 2012 at FSU Center for the Performing Arts

Set to the orchestral work of the same name by Maurice Ravel, Valses nobles et Sentimentales is one of Ashton's rare abstract ballets with no narrative created in the post-WW II period which soon led to his most mature creative period again firmly rooted in the dramatic foundation of the British Ballet tradition. Webb, himself, performed in and worked closely with Ashton when he recreated the work with the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1987. It was the last ballet Ashton revived for the company. This work has never been performed in the United States..

"My Way". The centerpiece of three performances at the Sarasota Opera House April 13- April 14, 2012 is Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs. Perhaps Twyla Tharp's most popular work, Nine Sinatra Songs radiates glamour, excitement, passion, and fun as she flings her dancers at the best of Sinatra, from "My Way" to "Something Stupid," exhibiting what one prominent critic called her "slithers, blind leaps, upsy-daisy lifts."
Nine Sinatra Songs is the finest of the three works where Tharp has used Frank Sinatra recordings and her approach here to the sentiments therein are full of flair and sophistication. This is the Sinatra of the 1960's rather than the 1940's and his smooth pose is matched or mocked in each of the seven duets, plus two ensemble sections.
The music is Sinatra's and each one of the songs she has chosen has its own musical and dance/theater character. The basic unit of each dancing couple includes Tharp's reinforcement of the traditional ballroom unit, which is upscaled by the active participation of the female dancer.
The opener is based on the theme of infatuation, the next Tharp has characterized as a "bastardized Tango." Another was not based on any particular dance form, but showed a "close" couple in late night, knowing rapport. After a re-gathering of all the "characters" involved, a new
dancing couple lends tart, comic relief. Unhurried glamour bathes the next dance, while the next couldn't be showier. This duo plays it straight, fast, front and center, in the manner of actual ballroom competition entrants. The capstone couple is one engrossed in a battle of wits and maneuvers. They play it hot, hard and furious, each giving as hard as he or she gets.
The final swell is a repeat of "My Way," recorded later than the first recapitulation's "My Way" accompaniment. The dance has become a wildly popular Tharp classic, presenting its view of 1950s social dancing through the nostalgic and yet sharpened eyes of the 1980s. Oscar de la Renta's dresses and tuxes flash with a similar double edge of present and previous ages.
This program will also feature George Balanchine's Serenade, considered a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet's repertory. Set to Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48, there are four movements -- "Sonatina," "Waltz," "Russian Dance," and "Elegy." The last two movements reverse the order of the score, ending the ballet on a sad note.

Theatre of Dreams. In what is becoming a tradition at The Sarasota Ballet, the closing performance weekend of the season will feature the choreographic talents of dancers themselves. This program with five performances April 27- 29, 2012 at FSU Center for the Performing Arts features World Premieres by Ricki Bertoni, Jamie Carter, Ricardo Graziano and Kate Honea.

Subscription tickets for The Sarasota Ballet 2011-2012 season are currently available. Subscription packages for performances in Sarasota range from $ 113 to $ 540.50 as well as single tickets ($25 - $85) can be purchased at or by calling The Sarasota Ballet Box Office at 941-359-0099, ext 101.

2011 - 2012 Season Overview

George Balanchine's Diamonds
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and The Sarasota Ballet
October 12 - 16, 2011
The John F. Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
(Not included in the subscription series)

Season Opener|
Including Matthew Hart's Tchaikovsky's Ballet Fantasy, Peter Darrell's Othello, and a World Premiere by Ricardo Graziano
Also featuring students of The Sarasota Ballet School
Friday, October 28, 2011 at 8 pm
Saturday October 29, 2011 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 2 pm and 7 pm
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

The Great Masters
George Balanchine's Diamonds and Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons
The Sarasota Ballet and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet
with Live Orchestra Accompaniment
Staged by former ballerinas Suzanne Farrell and Margaret Barbieri
Friday, November 18, 2011 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 8 pm
The Ruth Eckerd Performing Arts Hall
(Not included in the subscription series)

From the Park to the Prairies
Sir Frederick Ashton's Les Patineurs, Christopher Wheeldon's The American, and Agnes De Mille's Rodeo
Friday, December 9, 2011 at 8 pm
Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sarasota Opera House

Made in America
Including George Balanchine's Donizetti Variations, Will Tuckett's Spielende Kinder and Salute by Johan Kobborg
Friday, January 27, 2012 - 8 pm
Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday, January 29, 2012 - 2 pm and 7 pm
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

A Knight of The British Ballet
Including US premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
Friday, February 24, 2012 at 8 pm
Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 2 pm and 7 pm
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

"My Way"
Including Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs and Balanchine's Serenade
Friday, April 13, 2012 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sarasota Opera House

Theatre of Dreams
Including World Premieres by Ricki Bertoni, Jamie Carter, Ricardo Graziano and Kate Honea Friday, April 27, 2012 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 2 pm and 7 pm
FSU Center for the Performing Arts

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