Today, Artistic Director Iain Webb – who will also be celebrating fifteen years in the position – announced The Sarasota Ballet 2021-2022 Season which also marks the return to all in-person, live performances.
The seven programs will feature two world premieres by Ricardo Graziano and Sir David Bintley, the company’s first time performing a Mark Morris work, an honoring of Sir Peter Wright’s 95th birthday, as well as works by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, Dame Ninette de Valois, Martha Graham, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and Twyla Tharp.
“After a year full of unprecedented challenges, I can’t tell you how excited we all are to return to theater and share the breathtaking beauty of ballet with a live audience. We’re being cautious and adventurous with this upcoming Season. Cautious in that the first two programs are featuring just two ballets each and designed so that our audiences’ first experiences in the theater are comfortably paced. Adventurous because this Season is filled with amazing works and the most ambitious commissioned world premiere that The Sarasota Ballet has ever undertaken.
With this also being my 15th year, I wanted to celebrate it with some audience favorites like Balanchine’s Serenade; ballets that mean a great deal to me like Sir Fred’s Valses nobles et sentimentales; exciting premieres like Mark Morris’ The Letter V; and work with some old friends like Sir David Bintley and Johan Kobborg!”
Artistic Director of The Sarasota Ballet
The Sarasota Ballet 2021-2022 Season Schedule
Program 1 – New World | 22 – 24 October 2021 FSU Center for the Performing Arts
Appalachian Spring by Martha Graham
World Premiere by Ricardo Graziano
New World opens The Sarasota Ballet Season with a revisit to Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, a vibrant tribute to pioneer life and a hallmark display of Americana. Set to a score commissioned by Graham from Aaron Copland, this bucolic tale of a 19th century Pennsylvania farmhouse weaves four characters’ narratives together to face uncharted obstacles.
Appalachian Spring is joined by an exciting World Premiere by Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano. This will mark his first new choreographed work since the January 2019 premiere of Amorosa and, paired with Graham’s iconic work, opens this important Season with a sense of optimism, hope, and excitement for the future.
Program 2 – Day & Night | 19 – 20 November 2021
Sarasota Opera House
Summertide by Sir Peter Wright
Nine Sinatra Songs by Twyla Tharp
Day & Night, at the Sarasota Opera House, features an energetic duo of ballets – Sir Peter Wright’s Summertide and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs.
An abstract expression of Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Wright’s Summertide distills the magnificence of a radiant day into a one-act ballet. Choreographed in 1976 for the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet with the principal role created on Margaret Barbieri, Summertide found an all too fitting home in Sarasota with a 2015 revival.
Combining sunshine with swing, Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs follows with a series of legendary crooner Frank Sinatra’s tunes brought to life through dance. Each dance sequence expresses through movement the intrinsic human experiences of love and heartbreak so integral to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ oeuvre.
Giselle by Sir Peter Wright, Original Choreography by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli
In celebration of the choreographer’s 95th birthday anniversary, Program 3 brings Sir Peter Wright’s potent and enrapturing production of the classic Giselle to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, after the ballet’s sold-out 2019 performances. Performed across the globe by many of the great ballet companies. Wright’s production is considered by many to be one of the most faithful and artistically rich, perfectly bringing to life this tale of young love, unrequited romance, and loss.
Program 4 – Love & Betrayal | 28 – 31 January 2022
FSU Center for the Performing Arts
Valses nobles et sentimentales by Sir Frederick Ashton
The Rake’s Progress by Dame Ninette de Valois
Napoli Act III production by Johan Kobborg, choreography after August Bournonville
Love & Betrayal sees the return to The Sarasota Ballet’s renowned triple bills, with the choreography of Royal Ballet alumni Dame Ninette de Valois, Sir Frederick Ashton, and Johan Kobborg coming together for the first Program of the new year.
Ashton’s Valses nobles et sentimentales holds a special place in the history of The Sarasota Ballet. Having worked with Ashton on the 1987 revival, Webb returned the ballet to the stage after almost 25 years for The Sarasota Ballet’s 2012 American Premiere, reviving the almost-lost ballet and allowing audiences to experience Ashton’s vibrant musicality.
In contrast to Valses’ romanticism is de Valois’ The Rake’s Progress, a dramatic cautionary tale of betrayal and excess, showcasing the downfall of a wealthy merchant’s heir through de Valois’ extraordinary choreography and theatricality.
Kobborg’s production of August Bournonville’s Napoli rounds out Love & Betrayal. This marks the world-famous dancer, choreographer, and director’s return to Sarasota since 2014.
Program 5 – Mark Morris Dance Group | 4 – 7 March 2022
FSU Center for the Performing Arts
For Program 5, The Sarasota Ballet is excited to present the acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group for the first time. Founded in 1980 by dancer and choreographer Mark Morris, the group quickly garnered national and international attention as a result of Morris’ expressiveness and unique musicality.
“Morris’ works unspool with airtight musical logic. His choreography follows the music in a rolling, running rhythm of phrasing and sudden punctuation, movements that fall somewhere between common activity and high stylization.” – The Washington Post
Program 6 – A Comedy of Errors | 25 – 26 March 2022
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
A Comedy of Errors (World Premiere) by Sir David Bintley
Program 6 brings the World Premiere of A Comedy of Errors, a full-length balletic adaptation of William Shakespeare’s iconic comedy The Comedy of Errors, to the stage. Sir David Bintley, one of today’s most sought-after choreographers, puts his personal touch on this beloved story, with a score commissioned from renowned composer Matthew Hindson and sets and costumes by celebrated designer Dick Bird.
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2020 for his services to dance, Bintley has spent the last 40 years choreographing for some of the world’s most prominent ballet companies. Simultaneously, he has created a reputation for choreographing works that seamlessly use dance as part of a rich narrative and has established himself as one of Britain’s finest choreographers.
“Matthew, Dick, and I have dreamt of bringing our dance version of Shakespeare’s most outrageous comedy to the stage for almost a decade now,” explains Bintley. “I hope that it will provide a wonderful vehicle for the vibrant and energetic dancers and musicians of The Sarasota Ballet, and that Floridians will love its humor and joy – something which we desperately need after the past year.”
Program 7 – Serendipitous Movement | 29 – 30 April 2022
Sarasota Opera House
Serenade by George Balanchine
The Letter V (Company Premiere) by Mark Morris
Elite Syncopations by Sir Kenneth MacMillan
The Season concludes with Program 7 – Serendipitous Movement, a triple bill that epitomizes the depth and range of The Sarasota Ballet, and features George Balanchine’s Serenade, the Company Premiere of Mark Morris’ The Letter V, and Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations.
Balanchine’s gorgeous Serenade opens, coursing through the four movements of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in a mesmerizingly graceful display.
The Company Premiere of Morris’ dynamic The Letter V follows, marking the first time the Company will have worked with this astounding choreographer. Originally premiered in 2015 by the Houston Ballet, The Letter V sets Morris’ dynamic approach to dance and distinctive musicality to Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 in G, a pairing that Alistair Macaulay stated, in his New York Times review, “exemplifies the same qualities as Mr. Morris: high spirits, terrific humor, a strong inclination to the pastoral and a keen instinct for structural experimentation.”
The long-awaited return of MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations closes the Program with a ragtime-fueled, comedy-infused dance-off. Created for The Royal Ballet in 1974 with MacMillan at his most whimsical, the curtain opens as Elite Syncopations‘ cast dances wildly on a virtually bare stage surrounded by a live band.
Executive Director Joseph Volpe adds, “Alongside celebrating the artistic achievements that The Sarasota Ballet has attained during Iain’s 15 years, this Season is also a tribute to the extraordinary support that our patrons and audience members have given us during this past Season. Throughout the pandemic we were able to look after the health and wellbeing of our dancers, staff, and students, which was made possible because of the commitment and generosity of our community. Safely returning to the theater and continuing to produce world-class artistry is our way of showing our heartfelt thanks to our Sarasota Ballet family.”