Magazine article Pointe

Sarasota Ballet Opts for Change

Magazine article Pointe

Sarasota Ballet Opts for Change

Article excerpt

Sarasota Ballet Opts For Change

With an ambitious program that included a powerful performance of Kenneth MacMillan's Las Hermanas on January 25, in the Mertz Theatre at FSU Center for the Performing Arts, Sarasota Ballet of Florida tipped its hand to show what's in store under the artistic direction of Royal Ballet veteran lain Webb.

Webb, who took over the company six months ago. has set his sights on building a new repertoire out of important pieces by major choreographers. This represents quite a leap for Sarasota Ballet, which has spent most of its 17 years dancing the works of one man, former Artistic Director Robert de Warren, and a step up for Sarasota itself.

For all its ballyhooed reputation as Florida's leading center for the high arts, Sarasota is still in some ways a conservative Midwestern town transplanted to the Gulf of Mexico. This is an older crowd that likes its politicians Republican and its ballets brightly lit, heavy on the tutus. Some in the opening-night audience were audibly uncomfortable with MacMillan's tense, dark retelling of the play La Casa de Bernarda Alba, Garcia Lorca's classic tale of sexual repression, treachery and unbearable remorse, and there were even a few nervous titters at the climax.

Fortunately for Webb, though, the audience responded enthusiastically to the dancers, if not to the piece itself. The three principals. Lauren Strongin, Octavio Martin and. especially, Alison Dubsky, in a wrenching portrayal of yearning, all demonstrated with authority that the company can rise to the demands of highly challenging material. …

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