The Sarasota Ballet Celebrates Ballet History in 2014-2015 Season Finale

The Sarasota Ballet Celebrates Ballet History in 2014-2015 Season Finale

Honoring Vaslav Nijinsky, the Company pays tribute to The Ballets Russes

SARASOTA, FL (April 2, 2015) –The Sarasota Ballet ends the 2014-2015 Season with a retrospective paying tribute to The Ballets Russes and the famed male dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky. The program featuring Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides and Petrushka as well as Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun runs May 1 through May 2 at the Sarasota Opera House and will accompany live music by the Sarasota Orchestra.

Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes became known as one of the most influential ballet companies of the 20th Century, featuring ground-breaking collaborations among choreographers, composers and artists. Known not only for the exquisite technique of its dancers, The Ballets Russes gave birth to artists like Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Alexandre Benois, Leone Bakst and Coco Chanel.

 

Often described as a “romantic reverie,” Fokine’s Les Sylphides has no plot.  In an era when a non-narrative ballet was a startling innovation, this makes Les Sylphides the first and definitive “mood ballet.”  Michel Fokine described it as “the personification of a poetic vision.”  The 1907 original cast included Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Alexandra Baldina as the soloists and Nijinsky as The Poet. Diaghilev always asserted that Les Sylphides was his favorite ballet, and it was considered a great honor to be cast in it.  With music by Frédéric Chopin, Les Sylphides was a conscious homage to the mid-Nineteenth Century Romantic Ballet from which the great Russian tradition derived.

 

“In 1941, American Ballet Theatre commissioned an orchestration by Benjamin Britton of Chopin’s piano compositions,” said Director Iain Webb.  “Until recently, it was thought to be lost but after ABTs revival in 2013, I’m delighted that we’ve been given permission to use this orchestration.”

 

L’après-midi d’un faune (Afternoon of a Faun) was choreographed by Nijinsky for The Ballets Russes and premiered in 1912.  With music by Claude Debussy, the score and ballet were inspired by Stéphane Mallermé’s poem, “L’après-midi d’un faune,” and was originally staged to depict the dancers as part of a large tableau. Revived by Ann Hutchinson-Guest and Claudia Jeschke from Nijinsky’s own dance notation score, Afternoon of a Faun redefined ballet for the Twentieth Century, presenting dancers in bare feet, and rejected classical formalism with an overtly erotic subtext beneath its façade of Greek antiquity. Afternoon of a Faun is considered one of the first modern ballets and proved to be controversial during its time.

 

The tribute will end with Fokine’s Petrushka. This ballet tells the story of a Russian traditional puppet made of straw who comes to life and develops emotions. Created specifically for Nijinsky, it premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on June 13, 1911 and evokes Richard Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk, fusing music, ballet, choreography and history in perfect balance. Hailed by the great 1930s ballet writer Arnold Haskell as ‘the most successful of all dance dramas,” Petrushka relies on the genius to engender collaboration between the great creative talents of Fokine (choreographer), Nijinsky (dancer) and Stravinsky (composer), who developed the score around the sufferings of the Petrushka:  “the immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all countries” (Stravinsky).

 

“Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes proved a groundbreaking period in dance history,” said Webb.  “It brought together the greatest artists of the time.  Although many have tried, even today no one has come close to what Diaghilev achieved.”

 

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

A Tribute to The Ballets Russes – Honoring Vaslav Nijinsky

Sarasota Opera House

61 North Pineapple Avenue Sarasota, FL  34236

United States

 

May 1, 2015 at 7:30 PM May 2, 2015 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM

 

Tickets to A Tribute to The Ballets Russes – Honoring Vaslav Nijinsky may be purchased online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Tickets start at $35. The Box Office can be contacted by calling 941.359.0099.

 

About The Sarasota Ballet

Since 1990 The Sarasota Ballet, the Gulf Coast of Florida’s only professional ballet company, has been enriching lives, captivating emotions and strengthening the community through the art of dance. Under the leadership of Director Iain Webb, the Company’s expanded repertoire includes works by world-renowned choreographers such as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Christopher Bruce, Dame Ninette de Valois, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Hans van Manen, Andre Prokovsky, Dominic Walsh, Christopher Wheeldon and Matthew Bourne. Receiving national and international recognition for their diverse repertoire of rarely performed ballets, The Sarasota Ballet recently received rave reviews during the Sir Frederick Ashton Festival, which highlighted 14 of the famed choreographer’s ballets and divertissements in four days.  Alastair Macaulay with The New York Times said the Festival was an “extraordinary level both of Mr. Webb’s ambition and his company’s level of achievement.”

The Sarasota Ballet highlights one of America’s most influential choreographers.

The Sarasota Ballet highlights one of America’s most influential choreographers.

 

Taking the stage of the Sarasota Opera House on November 22nd and 23rd, The Sarasota Ballet will honor one of the most influential ballet figures in America, George Balanchine. Credited with bringing classical ballet into the modern era and establishing the New York City Ballet in 1934, the program will feature two of the choreographer’s most popular works, Serende and Who Cares? Also included in the triple bill will be a performance of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations, a ballet Balanchine commissioned Ashton to create specifically for the New York City Ballet. All three performances are set to live music performed by the Sarasota Orchestra.

 

Balanchine’s Serenade opens the program. Celebrated as the ballet that changed everything, Serenade was the first original ballet Balanchine created in America – paving the way for classical ballet to become an American art form. Set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a composer that Balanchine used in many of his ballets, this ballet was described by Balanchine as, “…dancers in motion to a beautiful piece of music. The only story is the music’s story, a serenade, a dance in the light of the moon.” The Sarasota Ballet Company first performed this piece in the 2011-12 season.

 

Serenade is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful ballets there is,” said Iain Webb, director of The Sarasota Ballet. “I am thrilled to bring it back to the Sarasota audiences.”

 

Second in the program line up is Sir Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations, a ballet set to Benjamin Britten’s 1939 arrangement of Les Illuminations, based on selected poems by Arthur Rimbaud. Ashton, who rarely worked outside of Britain’s Royal Ballet, created this piece specifically for the New York City Ballet in 1950, and the ballet’s tone reflects the dark and destructive nature of Rimbaud’s poems. In 1981 Illuminations was performed by The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, London.

 

“As a Company premiere, opening night of this performance will be especially exciting,” said Webb. “However, what makes it particularly special is that opening night lands on what would be Benjamin Britten’s 100 birthday.”

 

Balanchine’s exuberant Who Cares? will close the program. This vibrant ballet utilizes 17 Broadway inspired songs composed by George Gershwin. These songs include: Strike Up the Band, Sweet and Low Down, Somebody Loves Me, Bidin’ My Time, ‘S Wonderful, That Certain Feeling, Do Do Do, Lady Be Good, The Man I Love, Build a Stairway to Paradise, Embraceable You, Fascinatin’ Rhythm, Who Cares?,  My One and Only, Liza and I Got Rhythm. Featuring ensembles, solos, duets, quartets and quintets, the sassy and colorful energy of this New York City inspired performance is nothing short of lively and fun.

 

“Program Two, while it has an underlining theme of Balanchine, is extremely diverse when it comes to the types of ballets being performed,” explained Webb. “It’s always my goal to give our audiences something to look forward to and I’m positive that this line up has done just that.”

 

Not only will Program Two offer audiences a chance to see three diverse ballets, but the Program will also help benefit Equality Florida. As the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, the Company has donated one hundred tickets to the organization and they will receive 100 per cent of the profit from those sales.

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

Program Two: Balanchine & Ashton

 

Sarasota Opera House

61. N. Pineapple Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34236

 

Friday, November 22 at 8:00pm

Saturday, November 23 at 2:00pm & 8:00pm

 

Tickets may be purchased online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. The box office can be contacted by calling (941) 359-0099 x101.

 

About The Sarasota Ballet

Since 1990 The Sarasota Ballet, the Gulf Coast of Florida’s only professional ballet company, has been enriching lives, captivating emotions and strengthening the community through the art of dance. Under the leadership of Director Iain Webb, the Company’s expanded repertoire includes works by world-renowned choreographers such as Sir Frederick Ashton, Dame Ninette de Valois, Twyla Tharp, Anthony Tudor, Sir Kenneth Macmillan, John Cranko, Hans van Manen, Andre Prokovsky, Dominic Walsh, Christopher Wheeldon and Matthew Bourne. Receiving national and international recognition for their diverse repertoire of rarely performed ballets, The Sarasota Ballet was recently noted by Sarah Kaufman, a dance critic for The Washington Post to be “…the jewel of this year’s ‘Ballet Across America,’” a 2013 showcase of the best ballet companies from across the nation at the Kennedy Center.  For more information, please visit Sarasota Ballet’s website or call (941) 359-0099.

 

About The Ashton Festival

The 2014 Ashton Festival is being staged by The Sarasota Ballet to honor the life and works of the Royal Ballet’s founding choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton (1909-1988). As one of ballet’s most notable choreographers, Ashton has been a leading influence for The Sarasota Ballet’s repertoire since 2007, with the Company presenting more Ashton ballets each season than any other American Company. A dance and theatre critic for the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay, noted “…The Sarasota Ballet has suddenly become America’s foremost exponent of Ashton ballets.” Held in Sarasota, Florida, the four day celebration spans from April 30th to May 3rd, and will feature lectures, demonstrations and an eclectic array of 11 Ashton ballets performed by The Sarasota Ballet. For more information, please call (941) 359-0099 x110