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The Sarasota Ballet started off the season with a wonderful opener, “Walsh, Tudor, Graziano, and Layton.” To honor Iain Webb's 10th season with the Sarasota Ballet, the company restaged the classic “Wolfgang for Webb,” choreographed by Dominic Walsh. This was the first piece Webb commissioned for the Sarasota Ballet, so it was a fitting beginning to his decade celebration. This relatively exotic piece began with a diaphanous tarp covering the stage and our beloved dancers lifting limbs, feet and heads through tiny holes in the fabric. This cheeky opening to Walsh's clever piece demonstrates yet again the remarkable maturity of our high-flying local company. Victoria Hulland was gorgeous as Mozart's Muse, and once again I was captivated with Sarasota Ballet "it girl," Ellen Overstreet in the second movement. Overstreet is at once balletic and modern in her interpretations of the work. Additionally, the fantastic makeup in “Wolfgang” was both Kabukiesque and perfect to set the stage for Halloween weekend.
My favorite piece of the night, “Continuo," was set to Pachabel's Canon in D choreographed by Antony Tudor. The three lovely couples, dancing in complete rapture, reminded me of my own wedding and brought me to tears of joy. The most exciting part of “Continuo” was when each of the female dancers nearly took flight carried overhead by their male partners. “Continuo” was over far too quickly for me, but I will never forget it.
Ricardo Graziano's latest piece “Sonata in Four Movements” was a lovely confection nicely showcasing the incredibly talented company. The always delightful Elizabeth Sykes and Logan Learned turned in the most memorable performances of the piece. “Sonata in Four Movements” was a lovely sorbet cleansing our palettes before the final piece The Grand Tour choreographed by Joe Layton.
Amy Wood set the tone for this quirky period piece about a group of celebrities of the early 20th century. Wood was charming in the role of the American Tourist who delighted in observing the cast of very famous characters aboard her Cruise. She demonstrated excellent comic timing as well as an uncanny ability to move as an elderly woman might, while still appearing graceful and dignified. The highlight of the piece was the hilarious courtship of Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward played by Victoria Holland and Jamie Carter respectively. The two smoked incessantly with their arms entwined perhaps more passionate about smoking than one another. Logan Learned and Nicole Padilla were adorable as stowaways who came aboard in a suitcase.
Wood’s American Tourist managed to warm up even the frostiest passengers on the ship, and she even got her own duet, with the charming Ricardo Rhodes who adds grace to every piece he is in, to close the number.
The rest of the season promises to be an exciting and fanciful tour through a decade with Webb. Next up, Balanchine, Ashton & Tudor, November 18-20, 2016. For more information go to www.SarasotaBallet.org.