Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Company Secures Ashton's Future, along with Its Own

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Company Secures Ashton's Future, along with Its Own

Article excerpt

Even the most jaded of Frederick Ashton fans at the Sarasota Ballet's four-day festival honoring the British choreographer must have had a sense of heightened anticipation before the third program of the four-day event at the Sarasota Opera House Friday night.

Two of the ballets on the triple bill were works rarely performed in England and never before seen in America until Artistic Director Iain Webb introduced them to the repertoire over the past two years.

Until it premiered here in 2012, "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" had not been performed since Ashton revived it in 1987, shortly before his death. Considered "lost," it was painstakingly resurrected by Webb and his wife, Margaret Barbieri, from a poor quality film in the Birmingham Royal Ballet archives.

Originally created in 1947 to Maurice Ravel's sumptuous score, it is a gorgeous ballet. With its rose-tinted, atmospheric lighting, romantic velvet and tulle costuming, and simple set of opaque screens and silhouetted palms, it captures the yearning for glamour after war's austerity, and personifies the signature Ashton style, emphasizing the upper body and evoking his original muse, Anna Pavlova.

As the principal couple, Danielle Brown and Ricardo Graziano were elegance personified. Graziano has always been the most steady of partners, but it was gratifying to see Brown has conquered the nerves that sometimes affected her past performances; in both this and her principal role in the program's opener, "Birthday Offering," she displayed a confident richness of texture and detail and a gracious ease.

As one of four secondary couples, Mirella Costa Neto (with Jamie Carter) also deserves notice. A newcomer to the company this season, she shows great promise and a captivating charisma.

As a finale, you couldn't do better than "Sinfonietta," which Ashton created in 1967 and which the company debuted four months ago. …

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