Arts Update

By Kay Kipling January 19, 2011



Getting to the point

The Sarasota Ballet’s On Pointe luncheon is always an enjoyable and emotional experience. Last year, principal dancer Octavio Martin brought audience members to tears with as he poignantly paid tribute to his father, who had died only a few days earlier in Cuba. Martin explained how his father had encouraged his interest in dance. Martin also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to start a new life with the Sarasota Ballet after he and his wife defected from Cuba.

This year’s luncheon at Michael’s on East was just as moving. The luncheon is a benefit for Dance – The Next Generation, the ballet’s scholarship training program. The most famous graduate of that program, Bridgett Zehr, a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, spoke on videotape about how the program had changed her life.

Later, Zehr’s uncle, Sarasota architect Bruce Franklin, took the podium to elaborate. Without going into personal details, Franklin said that Bridgett’s home life was extremely challenging, and that Dance – the Next Generation helped give her the focus, confidence and self-discipline that she needed.

As Sarasota Ballet officials stressed, that’s the real purpose of the program—giving disadvantaged young people the chance to learn life skills that will benefit them in whatever directions their lives take.

During the luncheon, it was announced that the Kaiserman Foundation had stepped up with a $20,000 challenge grant for the program, and an anonymous donor contributed an additional $10,000.

The luncheon had its humorous moments, too. At one point, artistic director Iain Webb declared that the company had now reached a world-class level of performance. Later, ballet founder Jean Weidner took the podium, and noted that artistic directors “always have to say things like that.”

“But in this case, I can tell you it’s the truth,” continued Weidner, who smilingly called Webb a “strange and extraordinary artist. We are lucky to have you.”

Coming attraction: Martha Stewart

Domestic goddess Martha Stewart may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of film and television. But Stewart will be the next celebrity to come to Sarasota as part of Ringling College of Art and Design’s Digital Film Series on Feb. 24. Admission to the private event is by invitation only.

No word from Ringling whether this means Stewart is interested in one day doing some television productions in the school’s planned production facility. I guess we’ll get a clue if the blueprints call for a state-of-the-art kitchen and a crafts room!


Best Bete

Audience members who attend the Jan. 22 matinee performance of the Asolo Rep’s La Bete will get an added treat. David Hirson, the author of the inventive and engaging play, will take part in an onstage panel discussion after the performance. In fact, you can come for the discussion alone, which is free and will commence at approximately 4:15 p.m.

Written in rhyming couplets, La Bete is a hilarious and thought-provoking comedy about the clash between art and entertainment. Actor Danny Scheie, whose brilliant performance as a self-centered playwright includes a breathtaking 25-minute monologue, is also scheduled to take part in the discussion.

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