THE SARASOTA BALLET Kicks off 25th Anniversary Season at JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL
THE SARASOTA BALLET KICKS OFF ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON WITH A
JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL DEBUT AND A WORLD PREMIERE
August 6, 2015 – (Becket, MA) The Sarasota Ballet, acclaimed for their vitality, versatility, and elegance kicks off its 25th anniversary season with an exclusive seven-show Jacob’s Pillow debut in the Ted Shawn Theatre, August 12–16, including an added Thursday matinee at 2pm. The dynamic company performs Christopher Wheeldon’s fluid, joyous ballet The American, set to the Dvorák quartet of the same name; Sir Frederick Ashton’s celebrated, artful trios Monotones I and Monotones II; and a world premiere by resident choreographer and principal dancer Ricardo Graziano, set to music by Philip Glass.
“A triumph of courage, enterprise, enthusiasm, artistic importance, stylish dancing,” and “choreographic felicity” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), The Sarasota Ballet regularly astonishes audiences with the breadth and depth of its repertoire. Established in 1990, the Florida company has gained “a national and international profile” (Brian Seibert, The New York Times) for mastering classical works by George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, and Agnes de Mille in addition to more contemporary works by Twyla Tharp, Matthew Bourne, and Christopher Wheeldon. Best known for presenting Sir Frederick Ashton’s classic ballet works, The Sarasota Ballet hosted a four-day long Ashton festival in Sarasota in 2014 “drawing Ashtonites from both the U.S. and United Kingdom” (Robert Greskovic, The Wall Street Journal) honoring eight of Ashton’s works, several of which were not seen for decades.
The program opens with Christopher Wheeldon’s The American, inspired by the sense of space and tranquility of the Great Plains and open sky of the U.S. countryside. The work reflects the serenity of rural American landscape, expressed through Wheeldon’s signature arching lifts and sweeping arabesques. English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is the Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet and the 2015 Tony Award-winning director and choreographer of the Broadway production An American in Paris. Wheeldon was the first Artist-in-Residence of New York City Ballet, where he ascended to achieve the status of “one of the world’s most celebrated ballet choreographers” (Brian Seibert, The New York Times). Wheeldon regularly choreographs for leading dance companies, including Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet.
Sir Frederick Ashton’s two non-narrative, modernist pas de trois, Monotones I and Monotones II, and perfectly matched to Erik Satie’s exquisitely haunting score, “Trios Gymnopedies”. Applauded for its “supreme examples of adagio choreography,” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times), Monotones II was choreographed in 1965, the year before Monotones I, and mirrors the smooth images found in its companion piece. Ashton, “one of the ballet world's greatest choreographic treasures” (Carrie Siedman, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune) choreographed for the Royal Ballet and emerged one of the most influential dance figures in the 20th century. Ashton’s style is distinctive for its épaulement (the way the head and shoulders are held), fleet footwork, and combination of elegance and technical demands.
The program concludes with the world premiere of In A State of Weightlessness by The Sarasota Ballet’s 28-year old resident choreographer, Ricardo Graziano. Brazilian-born Graziano is also a principal dancer in his prime, and has held the position of resident choreographer since April 2014. In A State of Weightlessness, Graziano’s seventh creation for the company, is set to the second movement of the “Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” by the renowned composer and pianist Philip Glass. Glass won the 2015 Glenn Gould Prize, only the eleventh recipient of this prestigious honor, following some of the most celebrated musicians of the past century.
ABOUT SARASOTA BALLET
In 1987, The Sarasota Ballet was founded by Jean Allenby-Weidner as a presenting organization with the goal of becoming a full resident ballet company. This goal was achieved in 1990 with the appointment of the first Artistic Director, Eddy Toussaint. In 2007, Iain Webb, former dancer of the Royal Ballet, joined the company as Artistic Director. Under Webb’s leadership, The Sarasota Ballet “has undergone a heroic and unlikely transformation from a provincial Florida troupe to an internationally recognized repository for the works of the great British choreographer Frederick Ashton” (Brian Seibert, The New York Times). The company includes more Ashton works in their repertory than any other company in the U.S., but also features work from George Balanchine, Christopher Bruce, Dame Ninette de Valois, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Hans van Manen, André Prokovsky, Dominic Walsh, Christopher Wheeldon, and Matthew Bourne. The Margaret Barbieri Conservatory of Dance for pre-professional dancers was established in 2011 along with the at-risk youth drop-out prevention program called Dance-The Next Generation to nurture the development of the entire individual emphasizing discipline, self-esteem, and the desire for higher education. The Sarasota Ballet is committed to enriching lives, captivating emotions, and strengthening the community through the art of dance.
On Friday, August 14 at 5pm, the Pillow will host a PillowTalk discussion with biographer David Vaughan about Frederick Ashton’s legacy and its connections to The Sarasota Ballet.
PERFORMANCE AND TICKET INFORMATION
The Sarasota Ballet
Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, August 12 through Saturday August 15 at 8pm
Thursday, August 13; Saturday, August 15; and Sunday, August 16 at 2pm
Photo © Frank Azura