Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Graziano's Creative Voice Holds Its Own

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Graziano's Creative Voice Holds Its Own

Article excerpt

When you're 27 years old, with less than a half dozen ballets under your belt, and you're given top billing on a program with two venerated late and great choreographers -- Great Britain's Sir Frederick Ashton and America's Agnes DeMille -- you had better be good.

And Ricardo Graziano is just that. With the premiere of "Before Night Falls," the principal dancer with the Sarasota Ballet proved his creative voice may be even stronger than his ample dancing ability. His fourth work for the company confirmed his earlier promise and held its own on a bill with Ashton's stark "Monotones I & II" and DeMille's exuberant "Rodeo."

Graziano set himself a considerable challenge in creating this series of pas de deux (and a couples section) to the dramatic contemporary music of Icelandic composer Olafur Amalds. Partnering can be some of the most difficult work to choreograph, given that it often takes trial and error to determine what will work without risking either dancers or dullness.

In minimal dusky blue leotards that left the legs bare to emphasize musculature, four couples -- Victoria Hulland and Edward Gonzalez; Kristianne Kleine and Juan Gil; Kate Honea and David Tlaiye; and Danielle Brown with Ricardo Rhodes -- took turns enacting their relationships, rarely breaking from tight physical contact.

Each section began with slow walks and moved into novel combinations that included repeat phrases -- straddle lifts, bent leg second positions, extreme upper body arches. Each ended with a frozen lift and a signature gesture -- a kiss, a whisper, a touch. There was just enough repetition to give continuity and just enough "story" to make it feel accessible.

Graziano's ability to create integrated movement that is both original and difficult, yet still organic and fluid, is impressive.

The partnering was impressively polished, though the strength varied from couple to couple. …

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