Sarasota Ballet Review: Paul Taylor Program
January 29, 2021 | Digital
Immerse yourself in the virtual realm that Sarasota Ballet has created this season and it’s easy to forget – for about sixty minutes, at least – that there is so much uncertainty enveloping the world right now.
Since their opening Frederick Ashton program, the company has not ceased to produce the art that is so needed to heal the wounds of 2020 and beyond. At the same time, they are educating a global audience with their well-curated programs often featuring a particular choreographer.
Thus, falling into this pattern is the first program of Sarasota Ballet’s Winter – Spring season: a tribute to choreographer Paul Taylor.
It seems fitting to open with a piece which the company premiered on January 31, 2020 – almost one year ago to the day. Sarasota Ballet was the first aside from Paul Taylor Dance Company to have ever performed Brandenburgs, quite an honorable distinction.
This autumnal-hued piece is set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s famed Brandenburg Concertos and anyone who has had the fortune of dancing to the composer’s music knows that there’s no other joy quite like it. This is evident in all of the cast, even in the more serene second movement which evokes an Apollo-esque dynamic with Ricardo Graziano as the protagonist.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to turn a blind eye to the lack of synchronicity in the dancing of the five men who make up the corps de ballet in Brandenburgs. At any given time there is one who is off the quick music hence creating a rupture in the conformity that generally makes group choreography read beautifully.
Plus, this contrasts strongly with the harmony created by the women in the piece – Danielle Brown, Katelyn May, and Ellen Overstreet – who often appear to be one breath shared amongst three beings.
Set to songs by The Andrews Sisters, Taylor’s Company B visualizes the dichotomy of what the World War II era was like in the shelter of lively swing clubs versus the dreadfulness in the battlefield. The tone is set from the very beginning when silhouetted figures moving in slow motion gradually crescendo to bright lights on energetic dancers.
Sarasota Ballet’s artists are not just talented dancers but top-notch actors. Company B gives them a chance to shine in this capacity, each role and section assigned personalities that reflect the song they are moving to.
Notably charismatic are Ivan Spitale amongst the adoration of the women in the cast in “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” and Elizabeth Sykes in “Rum and Coca-Cola” as the men’s object of affection.
And Yuki Nonaka, who charmed this reviewer since the moment the curtain opened on Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Season, has done it again as the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)”. How he manages reach such lofty heights within the confines of such a speedy jive is impressive.
The Sarasota Ballet's 2020-2021 Digital Winter - Spring Season
Program 4 of Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Season is available to stream through February 2nd. It’s a wonderful watch for both novice and veteran ballet viewers.
Featured Photo for Sarasota Ballet Review: A Paul Taylor Celebration of Ivan Spitale in Paul Taylor’s Company B © Frank Atura
Leave a Reply