“Jewels” – a perfect gift for the holiday season!

I have been eagerly anticipating the opening night of “George Balanchine’s Jewels” when all three pieces, “Emeralds,” “Rubies,” and “Diamonds” would be performed on one night; and the Sarasota Ballet delivered in spades.

Victoria Hulland and Edward Barnes (photo by Frank Atura)

“Emeralds” is a delicate embroidery of movement – the perfect classical piece to begin the evening. Victoria Hulland was elegant as ever; and Edward Barnes, with whom I was not familiar prior to last night, was pure perfection in this piece.

I realized tonight why I enjoy Ellen Overstreet’s performances so much. She relishes the pure pleasure of dance as if the music brings her limbs to life; and she simply follows it wherever it takes her. Edward Gonzalez was yet again a wonderful partner for Ellen, and his steadiness and grace complements her beautifully. I must give kudos to Elizabeth Sykes who is always fun to watch; because she brings such joy to the stage. The “Emeralds” costumes were truly exquisite, and I was so happy to see my birthstone receive such an eminent display.

Kate Honea and Alex Harrison (photo by Frank Atura)

This was my first time seeing “Rubies,” and I found the piece quite extraordinary. Kate Honea, Kristianne Kleine, and Alex Harrison each placed themselves right in the pocket of the music and put their individual stamp on “Rubies.” Kate was on fire in this piece – a great showcase for her lighthearted personality and her grace. Kristianne had just the right verve and confidence to radiate in the stunning red costume; and Alex brought non-stop energy as he practically flew across the stage.

Danielle Brown and Ricardo Rhodes (photo by Frank Atura)

Finally, “Diamonds” was the piece de resistance. This huge number brought the majority of the company to the stage, which was aglow with the light from the refraction of so many diamonds. I must give a special mention to Ricardo Rhodes, who is in many ways the jewel in the crown of the Sarasota Ballet. His dancing is effortless and athletic at once; and he is an ideal partner to Danielle Brown. He looks at her with such pride and affection that it draws you in to their lovely stage chemistry. He humbly gave Danielle, who was truly a wonder in her solos and pas de deux with Ricardo, every opportunity to take center stage during the curtain calls. I also wanted him to get his chance in the front so we could pay tribute to his truly remarkable performance. I first noticed his empathy in the Anne Frank ballet several years ago, and his warmth shines through every time he takes the stage.

Once again Sarasota Ballet demonstrated its importance on the world stage with a wondrous performance of a full night of “Jewels.” Bravo Sarasota Ballet for making our City such a special place to be!

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