• Jeanne Marie

Sarasota Ballet's Second Digital Performance Stuns with all Balanchine Repertoire

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Special Thanks to Asher Fulero and Youtube Free Audio Library for providing music titled Web Weaver's Dance.

The Sarasota Ballet released its second digital performance this past weekend as part of its fall digital program. This time, the performance contained a completely Balanchine repertoire, shifting The Balanchine Trusts' history of near-exact replication requirements in the process.

According to Sarasota Ballet's Digital Performance Experience, a story covering the first installment of Sarasota Ballet's Fall Digital Program, the company was the first of Florida's major ballet companies to release an entirely digital performance, leading to a question of audience reception.

Iain Webb in the opening remarks of Sarasota Ballet's 2nd Digital Program.

However, according to the program's opening remarks by company director Iain Webb, the first performance received positive feedback and was viewed by patrons from across the world.

The second program contained five works: A pas de deux and excerpts from Donizetti Variations, Tarantella, the second movement of Western Symphony, the first, second, and third themes of The Four Temperaments, and excerpts from Who Cares?, all choreographed by George Balanchine.

Ricki Bertoni with Mikayla Hutton, Dominique Jenkins, Kennedy Falyn Cassada, and Macyn Vogt in Western Symphony.

Balanchine became a prominent figure in American ballet history when he moved to the United States and formed the first school for ballet in the country, the School of American Ballet, according to The George Balanchine Foundation's biography.

In conversation with Gabrielle Epifano, a serial guest on Movement Source's podcast and ballet teacher at the notable Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, she discusses how Balanchine's break from classical ballet norms, starting with his first work created in the United States, Serenade, could be a factor in his popularity within the country.

"It was so much more accepted because, quote, unquote, the American spirit," explains Epifano.

Janae Korte & Ricardo Graziano in Who Cares?

The Sarasota Ballet's performance gives audience members a diverse overview of Balanchine's style and inspiration while displaying the companies apt for performing the difficult yet luscious pieces.

However, while the question of the success of digital ballet performances seems, for the moment, answered, the company's performance does bring up a new question: How does working with The Balanchine Trust change during a global pandemic?

The Balanchine Trust is a foundation that protects the copyrights of Balanchine's work and preserves his choreography as close to the original as possible, according to the Trust's website.

Kate Honea & Ricardo Rhodes dancing Who Cares?

The Trust requires that any reproduction of the works be staged by an approved repetiteur and licensed, which can be obtained by a formal written request, including a video of a recent performance that would display the entire company's abilities, six months in advance for the Trust to make a determination, according to the company's licensing webpage.

According to Sandra Jennings, one of The Balanchine Trust's repetiteurs who worked with the Sarasota Ballet to set a couple of pieces and who spoke as part of the extra features provided to viewers of the program, says that some changes had to be allotted to uphold safety procedures put in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Lauren Ostrander & Richard House in Who Cares?

"Because of COVID, The Balanchine Trust was allowing a different partner for each ballerina so that way we could stay a little safer," explains Jennings as she talks about the final piece.

The slight break from tradition might show a willingness of the Balanchine Trust to compromise how the preservation of such distinguished works can be enjoyed and protected at the same time.

Kate Honea, Janae Korte, and Lauren Ostrander dancing in Who Cares?

All photos contain depictions of choreography by George Balanchine

© The George Balanchine Trust

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