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The Sarasota Ballet at The Joyce: Monotones, Symphony of Sorrows, There Where She Loved
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The Sarasota Ballet at The Joyce: Monotones, Symphony of Sorrows, There Where She Loved

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The Sarasota Ballet

Iain Webb, Director
Joseph Volpe, Exec. Director

Symphony of Sorrows
There Where She Loved

Lighting Designer: Aaron Muhl
Technical Director: Bill Atkins
Stage Manager: Mark Noble

The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 17, 2018

Monotones I and II (1965-66): Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, Music by Eric Satie, Trois Gnossiennes, Trois Gymnopédies, Designs by Sir Frederick Ashton, Originally Staged by Lynn Wallis, Restaged by Margaret Barbieri, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by (I): Ryoko Sadoshima, Thomas Giugovaz, Samantha Benoit, (II): Ricardo Graziano, Victoria Hulland, Ricardo Rhodes.

It was lovely sitting front left at The Joyce, so close to Cameron Grant at the piano, as he eloquently performed Satie’s Trois Gnossiennes and Trois Gymnopédies tonight for The Sarasota Ballet. The dancers here, unfamiliar to most New York balletomanes, were focused, balanced, and visually pure in this 1960’s wistful, mystical ballet in two segments, by Ashton. Tonight’s restaging was splendid and sophisticated. Usually seen at the rear of the orchestra pit, at Lincoln Center, it was especially riveting to experience the surreal sound and imagery so intimately. With each trio of dancers and the pianist only feet away, the performances of both Monotones were magnetic.

Symphony of Sorrows (2012): Choreography by Ricardo Graziano, Music by Henryk Gorecki, Symphony No. 3, Movement 3, Designed by Bill Fenner, Lighting by Aaron Muhl, Performed by Elizabeth Sykes & Ricki Bertoni, Kate Honea & Nicolas Moreno, Amy Wood & Weslley Carvalho, Christine Windsor & Ricardo Rhodes, Victoria Hulland & Jamie Carter.

I found this 2012 work by The Sarasota’s in-house choreographer, Ricardo Graziano, who is also a Principal dancer, to be tedious and redundant. Five couples grieve in such a way that it seemed the male partners were leaving and the women were attempting to seduce them, through intimate dance, to stay. This was not an assumption, but rather speculation. The recorded Gorecki orchestral score, Symphony No. 3, Movement 3, is not one I look forward to hearing again soon. The lighting was atmospheric and moody.

There Where She Loved (2000): Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Music by Frédéric Chopin and Kurt Weill, Designed by Holly Hines, Staged by Margaret Barbieri, Lighting by Aaron Muhl, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Sopranos: Michele Giglio and Stella Zambalis, Performed by the Company.

Christopher Wheeldon has long been one of my favorite choreographers, and it’s a shame that New York ballet audiences have not seen, until now, his 2000 piece for The Royal Ballet, There Where She Loved. Designed for a Chopin-Weill score, presented by a pianist and two sopranos for seven dramatic dance segments, this is a work I would love to see again, soon. Fortunately, I will be back for tomorrow’s matinee and will see this yet again. This ballet could flourish in New York, danced by City Ballet or Ballet Theatre, as it is so entrancing. The lieder, sung in Polish or German, literally right next to my seat, between the left front row audience and piano, were exquisite. Translations for the seven titles were provided in the program.

Each song’s drama revolved around romantic relationships, mournful or joyful, longstanding or serendipitous. One did not need full translations for the vocals, because the dance imagery was so detailed and professionally enacted. “Zyczenie”, or “The Wish”, opens the piece in an ensemble of four men and one woman, who reappear three dances later in “Nannas Lied”, or “Nanna’s Song”. “Surabaya Johnny” is danced by three women and one man, whose drama enables him in emotional manipulation of each partner. “Wiosna”, or “Spring”, is bucolic and ebullient, with the title segment, named “Gdzie Lubi”, a solo dance for Katelyn May. “Hulank”, or “Merrymaking”, finds four women rejecting the man, Ricardo Rhodes, this time. The final piece, sorrowful and still, “Je ne t’aime pas”, or “I do not love you”, a duo for Amy Wood and Ricardo Graziano, was the most mesmerizing in the entire sequence. Michele Giglio and Stella Zambalis, the sopranos, took turns at the microphone, and both sang with extraordinary skill and aplomb. They infused each song with the momentary emotionality of the ballet. Cameron Grant’s piano accompaniment was flawless.

Hopefully The Sarasota Ballet will return to New York again, soon, after this run, as they have always drawn huge accolades, even on these pages, when they appeared in the 2014 Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center. Kudos to Iain Webb, The Sarasota’s Director, and kudos to all.