Magazine article Pointe

Sarasota Ballet of Florida

Magazine article Pointe

Sarasota Ballet of Florida

Article excerpt

A diverse rep woos audiences at Sarasota Ballet of Florida.

When 17th-century poet Richard Barnfield penned the line "Fortune is full of fresh variety," he could have been envisioning the Sarasota Ballet of Florida. Now 15 years old, the company possesses a startlingly diverse repertoire, including Swan Lake, Carmina Burana, La Boutique Fantasque and Anne Frank.

"We're very versatile," acknowledges Artistic Director Robert de Warren. "In a small city there's no built-in ballet audience like in New York or Boston, and in America, the ballet audience is the smallest of all. I have to bring in works that bring in an audience."

De Warren's strategy appears to be working. His Ca d 'Zan: A Fantasy has proved so popular with local audiences it's been brought back twice since the 2003 première. Inspired by the elaborate Venetian palace Ca d'Zan, circus magnate John Ringling's Sarasota home, the ballet features a Circus Sarasota trapeze artist, a white stallion, clowns and acrobats.

Company members seem to relish the mix. Originally from Romania, Adrian Ciobanu, 32, joined SBF a decade ago. Although he officially retired from the company to teach and now directs the dance school, he will reprise his role as Juan Peron in Eva Peron-A Dance Portrait this season. The variety, he says, "is very good. It's more interesting." Ciobanu also likes the big productions SBF mounts and lauds the quality of the training that is based on the Vaganova syllabus.

In addition to solid technique, de Warren looks for dancers with acting skills. "I'm no lover of the abstract," he says. "We do theatrical interpretation. It must be well acted, as well as danced. I want dancers who are expressive. You get very intense performances that way." SBF dancers receive some basic training in acting, but it's "in rehearsals where we really teach them, polish them," he adds. …

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