En Pointe

The Sarasota Ballet's 2023-2024 Season Includes World Premieres, Fan Favorites, Sir Frederick Ashton and More

The season explores ideas about war, creativity and more.

By Staff July 12, 2023

The Sarasota Ballet in George Balanchine's Theme and Variations

The Sarasota Ballet in George Balanchine's Theme and Variations

Image: Frank Atura

The Sarasota Ballet's 2023-2024 season will include world premieres, company premieres, works by renowned choreographers and some Sarasota favorites.

Highlights this season include new work by Jessica Lang, Edwaard Liang’s The Art of War and a world premiere by Gemma Bond. The ballet's resident choreographer, Ricardo Graziano, returns with some of his most acclaimed works and a world premiere. The work of George Balanchine will be showcased through Theme and Variation, Who Cares? and Emeralds (from his masterpiece Jewels). And of course, Sarasota Ballet favorite Sir Frederick Ashton comes to life through his Varii CapricciDante Sonata and Sinfonietta.

The company will also perform works by Johan Kobborg (Salute), Sir Kenneth McMillan (Las Hermanas), Paul Taylor (Company B), Twyla Tharp (In the Upper Room), and Christopher Weeldon (The American).

Here's a closer look at what's coming up.

Program One, Oct. 20-22, 2023

The season opens with a world premiere by Gemma Bond, whose choreography has been applauded as "expansive, lyrical, handsomely coordinated, with a focus on the beauty of the line of the body.” Continuing the program is Sir Frederick Ashton’s whimsical Varii Capricci, originally revived by the Sarasota Ballet in 2019 and described as a "rare ballet bird—a self-parody and an honorable parody of the Royal Ballet’s own traditions," by dance writer Anna Kisselgoff. Johan Kobborg’s Salute, with music by Hans Christian Lumbye, rounds out the opening program, telling a loose story of soldiers going off to war and the girls they leave behind.

Program Two, November 17–18, 2023

The Art of War, a company premiere by BalletMet’s artistic director Edwaard Liang, kicks off Program Two. It's a work that is about, as Liang describes "controlling chaos.” This premiere also marks the first time that the Sarasota Ballet will work with Liang, whose choreography has been performed by companies around the world including New York City Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, and the Mariinsky Ballet.

Choreographed during the opening stages of World War II, Ashton’s Dante Sonata continues the theme of war with a synthesis of wartime symbolism and Ashton's reflections upon experiencing Franz Liszt’s piano piece of the same name.

The triple bill closes with Paul Taylor’s Company B, framing the turbulent era of World War II through the songs of the Andrews Sisters. Combining moments of joy and hilarity with the heavy reality of war, Taylor's piece that exemplifies the duality of America in the 1940s.

Program Three, December 15–16, 2023

George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations opens Program Three. The work transports audiences to the height of the Russian Imperial Ballet with its glittering costumes, masterful choreography and Tchaikovsky’s evocative score.

Program Three continues with a selection of divertissements—a classical ballet term meaning "enjoyable diversion"—that will provide audiences with a smorgasbord of works, including Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins.

Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room closes the December program. Created in 1986, the work features a commissioned score by Philip Glass. Tharp’s choreography blends a diverse range of movements, including boxing, tap dance, yoga, ballet, and full-speed sprinting. The dancers are challenged to execute the complex steps, maintain precise timing and meet the aerobic demands, all while slowly peeling off layers of clothing to reveal vibrant red costumes.

Danielle Brown and Luke Schaufuss in Ricardo Graziano's In a State of Weightlessness.

Image: Frank Atura

Program Four, January 26–29, 2024

Program Four features a trio of works by Ricardo Graziano, who's celebrating 10 years as Sarasota Ballet's resident choreographer. Sonatina is one of Graziano’s most classical works, choreographed to Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100; it will be followed by Graziano’s 11th one-act world premiere for the Sarasota Ballet.

Closing Program is the choreographer’s most critically acclaimed work, In a State of Weightlessness, which received its world premiere during the ballet’s week-long residency at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

Program Five, March 8–11, 2024

Each year, the ballet presents a visiting company as a part of its season to provide audiences with a different insight and connection to the art of dance. Previous companies have included the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Smuin Ballet and Ballet Hispánico. This season’s presented company will be announced later in the summer.

Victoria Hulland, Ricardo Rhodes, Flavia Abbadessa and Gabriela Poole in George Balanchine's Emeralds.

Image: Frank Atura

Program Six, April 5-6, 2024

Program Six opens with George Balanchine’s Emeralds, the opening ballet in the choreographer’s three-act ballet Jewels. Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s tense psychological drama Las Hermanas takes a 180-degree turn from the splendor of the previous work; it's a dramatic ballet about sensuality under harsh repression as well as the emotional and violent consequences that follow.

Closing Program Six, Balanchine's Who Cares?, with music by George Gershwin, takes audiences through a series of solos, duets, quartets, and ensemble pieces all set to jazzy classics.

Program Seven, April 26-27, 2024

Christopher Weeldon’s The American leads off the last full program of the 2023-2024 season. The ballet is set to Dvořák’s string quartet, with both score and choreography bringing to life the tranquility and open sky of America’s Great Plains. Jessica Lang's new repertoire work for Program Seven will be announced later this summer; audiences will remember that during the 2022-2023 season, the company performed the world premiere of Lang’s Shades of Spring to critical acclaim during both its Joyce New York tour and its main season in Sarasota.

Closing the season is Ashton’s Sinfonietta, an exciting, fiendishly difficult, abstract three-part ballet. Its 2nd movement, the elegy, is known as the most important section, which New York Times dance critic Alastair Macauley described as "remote, lunar, a brilliantly formal ceremony in white picked out against surrounding darkness.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit sarasotaballet.org.

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