As we face a daunting pandemic and civic unrest, I find myself thirsting for artistic expression now more than ever. In these unusual times, the Sarasota Ballet’s digital performance season is comfort food for arts lovers.
Among the most enjoyable pieces of the digital 3 production was a bravura performance by Ellen Overstreet, who once again transcends the digital medium, and serves as the gorgeous center of Sir Peter Wright’s “Summertide” Pas De Quatre. The sumptuous costumes and beautiful staging elevated this piece, with Ricardo Rhodes’s delicate and yet powerful partnering of Overstreet, to one of the company’s greatest performances. Seeing the show from the refuge of my home was lovely, but I long for the day to see this fabulous piece again in person.
Ivan Spitale secured his place as a legend of the Sarasota Ballet with a haunting performance in Dominic Walsh’s “Claire De Lune.” Spitale evoked famed mime Marcel Marceau’s inspiring yet lonely performances of the last century. Later in the program, Spitale embodied the unique role of the merman in the Sir Matthew Bourne’s “Infernal Gallop Merman Solo” and again extended his range.
Ryoko Sadoshima and Richard House performed Sir Peter Wright’s “The Mirror Walkers” to great effect. The Sarasota Ballet has a very strong bench; and it is wonderful to see Sadoshima and House have the chance to take center stage in this lovely traditional piece.
The true revelation of the evening was the absolutely phenomenal performance of “Othello.” In a relatively short piece, the company, including Rhodes as Othello, Ricardo Graziano as Iago, and Danielle Brown as a simply stunning Desdemona developed Shakespeare’s tragic story so vividly. Rhodes and Brown are always a beautiful pairing; and they gave off heat even in the final moments when Othello took his lover’s life.
The Sarasota Ballet always manages to turn in an awe-inspiring performance. Our community, and now viewers around the world, are lucky to be able to experience the wonders of this company who are performing even under the most trying circumstances.
Digital Program 4 will feature works by famed modern choreographer Paul Taylor. This will likely be a bit heart wrenching for me; because the last time we gathered with the Sarasota Ballet audience live was at the Paul Taylor performance nearly one year ago.
I ran into two of my favorite dancers Overstreet and Rhodes at the Muse Restaurant in the Ringling Museum next door, and that was one of my last unmasked conversations before we went into lockdown and everything was cancelled. I am excited to see our beloved company perform the world-renowned pieces “Brandenbergs” and “Company B,” but there is little question that part of me will be wishing I was in the theater sharing the wonder of live performance again.