After a 25-minute intermission, Ashton’s Valses began with certainty and deliberate early movements from paired male/female dancers donning dream-like costumes that immediately evoked splendor, excess and celebration. Long, full pink tulle made the four supporting femmes float through lifts and complex choreography that, for the most part, seemed an ethereal vision of a waltz in a world without worry. Their male counterparts were clad in rich burgundy costumes faithful to Webb’s design from the 1980s model on display in the front hall.
Rhodes, our Friday night male lead wore the same, distinguishing himself through an effortless series of lifts for female lead, Brown. Brown’s pink costume tied to his with an extra layer of the same burgundy, creating an extra layer of depth in the pairings between the two.
In early moments in which she was flanked by male counterparts on each side, she was the unity between two male forces; she was fluid and connected. But in moments alone, en pointe with hands raised, there was room for improvement in balance and delivery. However, her deft manipulation of her shoulders on three occasions caused this reviewer and others nearby in the audience to make audible approval of the grace she conveyed.
As this ballet was designed to evoke “…glamour, style and elegance in a Britain bankrupted by World War II and still dominated by austerity and rationing,” according to the notes, Sarasota Ballet more than delivered. How can one help but notice that almost two years into pandemic and supply chain shortages, many of us were eager to enjoy the same.
The grateful audience erupted in applause at the end of the Ashton ballet, an applause maintained beyond the presentation of roses to Brown and long after Barbieri joined her dedicated team on the stage to collect her own bouquet and offer farewell tidings to the crowd.
Tonight’s performance was not flawless, of course, but it was sincere and honest – well researched and well-rehearsed amid situations no one might have imagined two years ago. Tradition and the individual talent, to harken back to TS Eliot, met in Sarasota and reminded audience members why Webb and his company do what they do, indeed.
Remaining Love and Betrayal performances are Saturday, 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. / Sunday, 2:00 and 7:30 p.m., and Monday, 7:30 p.m. Limited seating is available online on Sarasota Ballet’s website.