Local arts organizations continue to march on, planning new seasons even as current ones have been suspended or canceled. Latest case in point: the Sarasota Ballet, which has announced its coming 30th anniversary season to open in October and run through May 2021.
There have been disappointments for the company, as with others; a week of performances planned at Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires was eliminated when that dance center canceled its summer season, and fingers are still crossed that the Sarasota Ballet dancers will be able to take the stage at the Joyce Theater in New York as scheduled for August. But director Iain Webb is forging ahead with a season that includes three company premieres postponed from this spring, along with four others. And the 2020-21 season will close by featuring works by three of the greatest female choreographers of the 20th century.
The 30th season commences Oct. 23-25 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts with a program including Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations, the return of principal dancer and resident choreographer Ricardo Graziano’s Amorosa, and Paul Taylor’s Company B, a work highlighting the era of World War II through the songs of the Andrews Sisters.
Sir David Bintley’s The Spider’s Feast, originally set for this season, will instead be presented Nov. 20 and 21 at the Sarasota Opera House, along with Sir Frederick Ashton’s Dante Sonata and his Birthday Offering. Dante Sonata is a company premiere, and Birthday Offering has not been performed here in many years. Bintley’s piece is a humorous and inventive story ballet about a predatory spider lurking in a garden where insects battle and play.
The anticipated—and delayed—company premiere of Ashton’s full-length ballet Romeo & Juliet, set to music by Prokofiev, will now highlight the holiday season with performances Dec. 18 and 19 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Another Shakespeare work, Othello, will return to the Sarasota Ballet schedule after some years, with Peter Darrell’s interpretation of the tragedy playing Feb. 26-March 1 at the FSU Center. Also on the bill for those dates will be a reprise of Will Tuckett’s Changing Light, first commissioned by the Sarasota Ballet in 2013. A third piece yet to be announced will round out the program.
Choreography by Balanchine returns with his Serenade—his first American choreographic production, dating from 1935 and featuring music by Tchaikovsky, March 26-27 at the Sarasota Opera House. And the company premiere of Mark Morris’ The Letter V (the first time the Sarasota company will perform a Morris work) precedes an appearance by the Mark Morris Dance Group itself, April 9 and 10 at the opera house. Also on the March program: Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations, a ragtime-powered “dance concert” created in 1974, with music by Scott Joplin.
And for the closing program of the season—and the start of a multi-year project focused on female choreographers—the ballet presents a triple bill April 30-May 1 at the Sarasota Opera House. Opening the program will be the company premiere of Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend, retelling the story of the infamous Lizzie Borden in a character-focused piece created for American Ballet Theatre in 1948. Dame Ninette de Valois’ signature Checkmate returns to the Sarasota stage, and another company premiere—Les Biches by Bronislava Nijinska (sister of the better-known Vaslav Nijinsky, but a creator in her own right) with music by Poulenc will conclude the performances.
Full season subscribers can renew now; new subscribers can sign up starting May 18, and four ballet packages will be available starting June 15. For more information, call the box office at 359-0099 or visit sarasotaballet.org. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 3.