Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Spanning the Decades with Ballet

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Spanning the Decades with Ballet

Article excerpt

The Sarasota Ballet's fourth program of the season spanned a choreographic time frame of nearly 70 years, yet any one of the three ballets performed looked was if it might have been created yesterday.

In fact, only one -- the world premiere of a second company commission from Brit Will Tuckett -- was. But George Balanchine's "Four Temperaments," which premiered in 1946, even before the birth of the New York City Ballet, and Frederick Ashton's "Sinfonietta," never performed in America at all since its 1967 Royal Ballet debut, looked every bit as fresh, modern and original.

That may have been the only weakness of this bill, with three non- narrative, minimally costumed, maximally scored neo-classical pieces in a row. But can there be too much of a good thing?

The most eagerly awaited was Tuckett's, whose athletic and exuberant "Changing Light" was the hit of last season. "Lux Aeterna" is a very different piece. Danced to American composer Morten Lauridsen's choral requiem of the same name (alas, recorded), it is a somber but not despairing elegy sparked by the 100th anniversary of Europe's entry into World War I. Though abstract, it is clearly about lives lost, women left behind and the enigmatic moment of "crossing over," but with a hopeful rather than funereal slant.

It opens with eight men in shadowy gray unitards (by Bill Fenner) "running" in slow motion -- an image that returns periodically -- and falling as if hit by artillery until just one, Ricardo Graziano, remains standing. A single woman in white (Danielle Brown) -- his lover? his wife? his fantasy? -- enters with the floating parallel bourrees that are a recurrent theme for her and 14 other women, who in turn beckon, comfort, lean on and fade from their partners.

There are some achingly beautiful moments, hauntingly lit by Aaron Muhl, among them, the prone men's heads resting in their partners' laps, and a petite girl (Jessica Cohen) frolicking with the lead couple, as if she were the child they never had. …

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