The Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Reinvented

By Rogosin, Elinor | Dance Magazine, December 2007 | Go to article overview

The Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Reinvented


Rogosin, Elinor, Dance Magazine


After artistic director Robert de Warren retired from the Sarasota Ballet in June after 14 years with the company, lain Webb took the helm. The repertoire had been filled with de Warren's theater-based ballets. But Webb, who danced with The Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, is calling upon experience and his connections to the English ballet world to shake things up.

Many of the ballets he is bringing in, like MacMillan's Las Hermanas, Ashton's Elite Syncopations, and The Two Pigeons, are not only new to Sarasota, but rarely seen in the U.S. They are harbingers of Webb's vision to nurture a dance company that he hopes will entice local audiences and eventually tour. "I saw the dancers and knew what they were capable of," he says. "I chose a range of ballets to extend their dramatic, emotional range, so that the dancers will have a sense of artistry beyond the technical feats."

Webb has been rehearsal director for Matthew Bourne and the assistant director at K-Ballet of Japan. "As a dancer," he says, "I found it so inspiring to have the privilege of working with many choreographers that I wanted to re-create that excitement." Webb and his wife, former Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet ballerina Margaret Barbieri, were supporters of Bourne, having spotted his talent and helped him during his early years. Webb has invited Bourne to set his 1989 ballet The Infernal Gallop on Sarasota for the last program of the season in April.

Ashton's haunting Two Pigeons, loosely based on La Fontaine's fable of love lost and found, uses his signature blend of lyricism and exacting technique to tell its story. …

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