We weren’t sure we could make it to this week’s performance of “Masters of Dance,” but the stars aligned. I am thrilled I had the chance to be introduced to Mathias Dingman, principal dancer of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, dancing the role first created by Sir Frederick Ashton for Mikhail Barshnikov.
For “Rhapsody,” the Sarasota Ballet secured the original sets from the Royal Ballet; and the exquisite dancing before the regal Greek columns had me enraptured from start to finish. All of the dancers rose to the occasion of the highly intricate choreography. The pairing of Katelyn May and Dingman, who danced so sweetly together, was inspired. May is every bit the star that Dingman is; and with continued careful casting and nurturing by Artistic Director Iain Webb has the capacity to become the next Wendy Whelan (star of the New York City Ballet). I could watch a traditional and highly energetic piece like “Rhapsody” for hours. I hope Dingman returns to Sarasota for future engagements, because his gentle demeanor and light yet powerful performance made this week’s “Rhapsody” on my list of all time favorites.
Next on the bill was Christopher Wheeldon’s “There Where She Loved.” This piece was amplified in intensity by the operatic voices of Michelle Giglio and Stella Zambalis and featured dramatic pairings of a large number of dancers, including the deft and spritely Danielle Brown, back on stage following an injury. Two of the highlights were the dance performed to Surabaya Johnny featuring a debonair and non-committal Ricardo Rhodes pairing and repairing with Kate Honea, Danielle Brown, and Ellen Overstreet. Overstreet is an expert at engaging with the audience while remaining in character slyly looking over at us as if to say, “don’t worry, I’ve got him.” Finally, Amy Wood and Ricardo Graziano performed a lovely yet sorrowful duet to “Je Ne T’aime Pas (I Do Not Love You).”
For the final piece “The Concert,” the Sarasota Ballet tried their hands at slapstick proving their comedic chops. Of special note were zany beauty Victoria Hulland, henpecked husband Ricki Bertoni, and the hilarious bespeckled Dagny Hanrahan.
Bertoni, principal character dancer, seemed to be preparing for this role throughout his career bringing his easy wit and athletic prowess to make his silly antics on stage whimsical and artful all at once. Hulland literally let her hair down for this piece and was so much fun laying her head lovingly on the piano even as another dancer pulled her chair out from under her. Hanrahan was purposefully out of sync with the other dancers showcasing her fun-loving personality and the amount of talent it takes to dance “incorrectly” perfectly. They were all nearly upstaged by the charming pianist Cameron Grant of the New York City Ballet, who winningly played along with all the antics on stage.
Can’t wait for “Victorian Winters” featuring two of my favorites “Les Patineurs” – the closest we Floridians get to ice skating and “Diamonds” – the jewel in the crown of the Sarasota Ballet repertoire.