George Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations and Ricardo Graziano’s Amorosa both remind us just how much we need dance in our lives, how this art form has the power to make us feel alive.
And as has been proven throughout this non-traditional season, Sarasota Ballet has once again seized on the opportunity to show the world beyond their municipal boundaries that they deserve their spot on the ballet map.
The show starts with the energetic Donizetti Variations, Balanchine’s creation in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Italy’s unification.
Set to music from the opera Don Sebastian, the choreography highlights its vibrancy with an ever-changing mise-en-scene that Balanchine is such a master of. The cast of eleven led by Katelyn May and Yuri Marques effortlessly transition from formation to formation without missing a beat. They are clearly so well-rehearsed performing clean technical ballet and precise canons, all the while exuding the light buoyancy of the piece.
This is not the first time this season that we have seen Sarasota Ballet perform Donizetti Variations; in Program 2, May and Marques showcased the pas de deux. In November I had commented on how some of the partnering was shaky and it was lovely to see the improvement that has taken place over the last three months. Marques still seems to forget that the audience can always see his face and must learn to mask his concentration with a more appropriate expression. And May still shines, most especially in the beautiful articulation of her feet from pointe to plié.
The opening of Amorosa is breathtaking.
Contrasting the darkness that surrounds her, Danielle Brown, facing upstage donned in a scarlet dress, is spotlit, her upward-gazing profile focused on the rose in her hand. This still moment is embraced by the full cello strings singing Vivaldi, and in this moment we are witness to what is the epitome of elegance.
Graziano plays with these strong contrasts between dark and light throughout Amorosa allowing him to effectively display moments that seem to be caught in time. The men are dressed in all black leaving only their hands and faces to reveal the secret behind what appears to be women floating in the air.
There are also the unexpected appearances and disappearances of dancers as they enter and exit the dark shadows of the stage. This element adds dynamic to a piece that feels just a tad too long despite being full of beautiful lifts and interesting pas de deux. It’s almost as if we are given too much of a good thing whereas I would have preferred to have been left wanting more.
The Sarasota Ballet's Program 5 Trailer
Program 5 of Sarasota Ballet’s Digital Season is available to stream through March 2nd. If you are not already, the pairing of Donizetti Variations and Amorosa will make you fall in love with ballet for its grace, athleticism, drama, and pure beauty.
Cherilyn's lifelong passion for ballet has opened the door to the next chapter of her journey. Her strong foundation includes training at the School of American Ballet, being a featured dancer with Hartford Ballet and Carolina Ballet, and being co-director/owner of City Ballet Raleigh. She was granted the Affiliate Teacher Award after successfully completing the ABT National Training Curriculum®. A professional career in the industry along with extensive global travel provide her with a unique set of experiences to draw upon as a journalist and audience member. Cherilyn is excited to be sharing her insight about ballet around the world.