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

October 31, 2013

Press Releases

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

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