Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring began to take form when Graham commissioned Aaron Copland, having recently gained acclaim for his score for Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, to create a ballet with “an American theme”; the result was a fourteen-movement work for a thirteen-instrument accompaniment, based heavily around traditional Shaker themes.
Appalachian Spring premiered in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., with Graham dancing the lead role in the inaugural performance, on a striking yet sparse set designed by frequent Graham collaborator Isamu Noguchi.
The ballet weaves a narrative of four core characters—a young pioneer husband and bride, a Preacher leading his Worshippers, and a reserved Pioneer Woman—experiencing the hardships of settler life and conflicting forces of love and spirituality. Met with significant success for both choreographer and composer, Appalachian Spring would become one of Graham’s most celebrated creations.
Joseph Volpe, Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet, adds:
“Appalachian Spring has long stood as a shining gem of both modern dance and the spirit of Americana. We continue to be the only professional ballet company to include this iconic work in the repertoire, and I know that the dancers have been eager to perform it ever since its 2018 Company premiere. Meanwhile, it is fantastic to see Ricardo choreographing once again in the studio as he prepares for the premiere of his new work, Sonatina.”
Returning to a more classical style for the first time in five years, Graziano was commissioned by Webb to create a new work that would not only welcome audiences back into the theater, but also enable the dancers to return in full force to the stage.
Choreographed to Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100, Sonatina in part incorporates movements and elements inspired by the works of Sir Frederick Ashton – a natural influence considering the number of Ashton’s ballets Graziano has danced in during his career thus far with The Sarasota Ballet.
Costumes designed by Jerry Wolf and lighting by Aaron Muhl round out the visual elements of this season opening world premiere.