Ashton in Sarasota

Sarasota Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations. © Frank Atura.
Sarasota Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations.
© Frank Atura.

I’m just back from the Ashton festival at Sarasota Ballet, a four-day tribute to the choreographer. Under the directorship of Iain Webb, the company has been undergoing a major expansion over the past few years. By any measure, the festival was a big success, with strong performances, expressive dancing, and a powerful sense of style and common purpose.

You can read my review for DanceTabs here.

And a short excerpt: “The advantage of putting all these ballets on the stage in quick succession is that the audience begins to see all sorts of interconnections and motifs running through the works. Thus, in Monotones II (1965), there is an echo of the slow trio near the beginning of Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, in which a woman is slowly revolved by two men and shown from all angles, the center of a slow-moving planetary system.”

Mark Morris’s new “A Wooden Tree” (DanceTabs)

Just returned from the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, where I got to see both Shantala Shivalingappa and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Here’s my review of the latter, performing a quadruple bill that included a new work, “A Wooden Tree,” set to songs by the Scottish eccentric Ivor Cutler. As was announced just a few days before the show, Baryshnikov performed; he was clearly enjoying being part of the ensemble. “A Wooden Tree” is an eccentric, awkward little work, in which Baryshnikov and the rest of Morris’s crew are given free rein to explore their inner introversion. Garbed in Elizabeth Kurtzman’s dowdy Scottish wear – scratchy-looking woolens, caps, unflattering dresses, sweater-vests – they interact, clumsily court, briefly couple, or act out little scenes. In a way, it amounts to a pantomime. It feels experimental and awkward, less glib than some of his recent works.

I also interviewed Shantala Shivalingappa. That interview will be posted soon….