“Transcending Movement” moves beyond typical fare to achieve the sublime

Sarasota Ballet’s latest production “Transcending Movement” was an exciting mix of classic and modern featuring four divergent pieces that captured the spirit of what the company is all about.

The evening began with the delightful “Four Scottish Dances” by David Bintley – light and fresh with a particularly strong performance by Weslley Carvahlo, a coryphée dancer who brings leading male star quality to his role. Breezy and fun, this piece was a great aperitif for the rest of the show, even featuring Ivan Duarte and Filippo Valmorbida as a pair of drunken Scottish gents enjoying the highlands.

“Meditation from Thaïs” by Sir Frederick Ashton is a masterpiece and an absolute must see. I hope this short, mystical pas de deux makes it into a heavy rotation for the company; because it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen performed.

I found myself holding my breath in awe as Ricardo Graziano and Katelyn May performed this magnificent moving meditation. The piece reminded me of a sculpture of a pair of bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) that has come to life. I could see the piece being staged some day at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, which exhibits primarily Himalayan art. Also noteworthy was the gorgeous splash of orange in the pair’s extravagant costumes designed by Sir Anthony Dowell.

Katelyn May and Ricardo Graziano (photo by Frank Atura)

Proving his incredible versatility, Graziano’s world premiere “Amorosa” was the highlight of an already fantastic evening. The lush costumes, the unique vocabulary of the dancers’ movements, as well as the grace and energy the company with guest artist Marcelo Gomes brought to the stage was truly extraordinary. This pre-Valentine’s day reverie on love and beauty was remarkable, and Graziano is clearly a force to be reckoned with in the world of choreography. I would stack this piece up with any of the truly great ballets that exemplify the top dance companies of the world. The unique style of dance featuring sharp quick arm movements and heads bowed toward shoulders combined with pure athleticism seems to be something Graziano could return to again and again in different contexts giving his ballets their own stamp. Of particular note was the skillful partnering of Danielle Brown and Gomes, who brought humanity and grace to this elegant piece.

“Amorosa” (photo by Frank Aturo)

“Varii Capricci” by Sir Frederick Ashton, although playful and light, did not end the evening on as high of a note as it would have if swapped with “Amorosa.” Gomes was funny and charming as Lo Straniero and his precision kicks are breathtaking; and I enjoy seeing the dancers have the chance to be whimsical with a humorous piece. All in all the evening was filled with enchanting fare. 

There are several more chances to see “Transcending Movements,” which extends through Monday, January 28th.

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