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The Sarasota Ballet returns to the stage with Program 1 – New World

Oct. 22-24 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts

By Staff | Oct 12, 2021

Ricki Bertoni in Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring. Photography by Frank Atura

Returning to live in theater performances for the first time since January 2020, The Sarasota Ballet takes the stage at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts with Program 1 – New World, Oct. 22-24. Modern Dance icon Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring opens this double-bill program–and, indeed, the 2021 – 2022 Season–with an uplifting slice of Americana. New World also introduces the World Premiere of Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano’s Sonatina, his first ballet choreographed on the Company since January 2019’s Amorosa.

“It brings me joy beyond measure to see our Company perform to a live audience again after such an extensive hiatus,” says Iain Webb, Director of The Sarasota Ballet. “For me, New World expresses so much of how we as a Company feel about our return to the theater. You have the hope for a new future that comes from the pioneer era so perfectly brought to life by the legendary Martha Graham, and you have the excitement that comes from a world premiere through Ricardo’s Sonatina.”

Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring began to take form when Graham commissioned Aaron Copland, having recently gained acclaim for his score for Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, to create a ballet with “an American theme”; the result was a fourteen-movement work for a thirteen-instrument accompaniment, based heavily around traditional Shaker themes. Appalachian Spring premiered in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., with Graham dancing the lead role in the inaugural performance, on a striking yet sparse set designed by frequent Graham collaborator Isamu Noguchi. The ballet weaves a narrative of four core characters–a young pioneer husband and bride, a Preacher leading his Worshippers, and a reserved Pioneer Woman–experiencing the hardships of settler life and conflicting forces of love and spirituality. Met with significant success for both choreographer and composer, Appalachian Spring would become one of Graham’s most celebrated creations.

“Appalachian Spring has long stood as a shining gem of both modern dance and the spirit of Americana,” states Joseph Volpe, Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet. “We continue to be the only professional ballet company to include this iconic work in the repertoire, and I know that the dancers have been eager to perform it ever since its 2018 Company premiere. Meanwhile, it is fantastic to see Ricardo choreographing once again in the studio as he prepares for the premiere of his new work, Sonatina.”

Returning to a more classical style for the first time in five years, Graziano was commissioned by Webb to create a new work that would not only welcome audiences back into the theater, but also enable the dancers to return in full force to the stage. Choreographed to Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100, Sonatina in part incorporates movements and elements inspired by the works of Sir Frederick Ashton–a natural influence considering the number of Ashton’s ballets Graziano has danced in during his career thus far with The Sarasota Ballet. Costumes designed by Jerry Wolf and lighting by Aaron Muhl round out the visual elements of this season opening world premiere.

The Sarasota Ballet’s performances of New World are sponsored by Your Observer.

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

Oct. 22-24

FSU Center for the Performing Arts

• Friday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Oct.23 at 2 p.m.

• Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

• Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m.

• Sunday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Appalachian Spring

Choreography by Martha Graham

Music by Aaron Copland


Choreography by Ricardo Graziano

Music by Antonín Dvořák

Subscription Tickets

Subscriptions and Packages to The Sarasota Ballet’s 2021 – 2022 Season are on sale now, beginning at $120. For information, please visit www.SarasotaBallet.org or call the box office at 941-359-0099, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Single Tickets

Individual tickets for New World, starting at $35, are on sale now at www.SarasotaBallet.org or by calling 941-359-0099.

About The Sarasota Ballet

Since 1990, the mission of The Sarasota Ballet has been enriching lives, captivating emotions, and strengthening the community through the art of dance. Under the leadership of Director Iain Webb, Executive Director Joseph Volpe, and Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri, The Sarasota Ballet has received national and international recognition for its diverse repertoire of rarely performed ballets, as well as the integrity and artistry of its performances. The Company’s expansive repertoire includes works by world-renowned choreographers such as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Sir David Bintley, Sir Matthew Bourne, Dame Ninette de Valois, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Through the collective endeavors of The Sarasota Ballet School, the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory, and the organization’s Community Engagement Program, The Sarasota Ballet aims to share the beauty and artistry of dance with the entire community. The Company has also toured extensively during Webb’s tenure, having been invited to perform twice at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., twice at the Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center, and the inaugural National Choreographic Festival in Salt Lake City, as well as week-long residencies at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Joyce Theater in New York. In August of 2018, The Sarasota Ballet returned to the Joyce Theater for another sold out week-long residency. To sustain the appreciation of the art form through the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Sarasota Ballet presented a fully digital Season to ballet patrons around the globe, maintaining support for their dancers and staff throughout the year.