Dancing and Drama at the Sarasota Ballet

By Kay Kipling December 6, 2010


The Sarasota Ballet's performance of its Modern Greats program on Friday night was impressive and thrilling, particularly in light of last-minute cast changes that occurred when one dancer took ill.

But the real drama occurred minutes after the conclusion of Twyla Tharp's heart-pounding In the Upper Room. Artistic director Iain Webb bounded on stage, hugged the exhausted but exhilarated dancers, and then grabbed the microphone. His voice breaking with emotion, he asked what other dance company could have tackled such an ambitious program. He praised the company members for their dedication and the cheering audience members for their support. Then, he fist-pumped and paraphrased a line from the movie Braveheart: "There is only ONE Sarasota Ballet!"

Many in the audience roared, clearly recognizing this as a shot across the bow at Robert De Warren, the former Sarasota Ballet artistic director, who has started a training-and-performance program of his own in Sarasota.

Sarasota Ballet supporters view the decision as a damaging competitive move by a disgruntled former director. De Warren's supporters, who have traded barbs with Webb's fans in the newspaper, say De Warren has a perfect right to start a new venture.

De Warren is so upset with Sarasota Ballet that he says he'll never attend another of its performances. Does that include his own production of The Nutcracker, which Sarasota Ballet is presenting next Saturday? Stay tuned.



Blood Simple


The Asolo Rep's production of Bonnie and Clyde isn't as technically complicated as the new Broadway musical Spiderman, whose troubles have been front-page news in New York. But the show does feature gun battles, vintage autos that move off and on stage, and lots of spurting erzatz blood. The blood caused some problems for lead actor Jeremy Jordan recently. During the scene that recounts his murder of an inmate who was assaulting him in prison, Jordan slipped on the blood, slammed into a set piece and injured his back. But the pain didn't cause him to miss any performances, and I'm told he's returned to machine-gun ready shape now.


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