One of the Sarasota performing arts scene's newest players continues to impress with its worldwide reach.
The second annual Carreno Dance Festival, taking place this month at the city's famed opera house, has attracted students from as far away as Russia, France, Brazil and China.
The attendance total, at more than 100, has doubled from last year.
Credit Cuban-born dance great Jose Carreno, the festival's artistic director, for the rapid growth.
A former principal dancer with the English National Ballet, Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, he's one of the most acclaimed dancers on the planet.
Carreno, who made an appearance last year on the popular ABC television program "Dancing with the Stars," also enjoys a good reputation as an instructor.
"I don't think we have done anything unusual," Carreno said when asked about the uptick in attendees. "It's just people from last year talking about how much fun and good time they have here."
The culmination of the three-week Carreno Dance Festival Summer Intensive Program for pre-professional and advanced dance students is the "Festival of Stars," with performances at the Sarasota Opera House Aug. 24 and 25. It provides the student dancers, who are between 12 and 21 years old, with the opportunity to share the stage with internationally recognized guest artists.
Julie Kent (principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre), Melanie Hamrick (also of ABT), Misty Copeland (ABT), Rubinald Pronk, (Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company), Taras Domitro (San Francisco Ballet), Gennadi Saveliev (ABT) and Carreno will be joining the students in a program
that includes Act II of "Giselle."
Along with "Swan Lake," which closed last year's Carreno Dance Festival, and "Sleeping Beauty," "Giselle" has been described as part of classic ballet's most demanding threesome.
Dating back to 1841, it's the story of a girl who dies and comes back to save her beloved.
"It's really difficult to put it together and demanding," Carreno said. "But I like challenges. It's a huge challenge for me and the staff. But you have to have challenges, and we are going to do it well.
"Everybody is going to be involved."
"The Junior Stars of Tomorrow" program showcases Carreno Summer Intensive students. Many are prize winners from national dance competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix and the American Dance Competition. The "Junior Stars of Tomorrow" performance will be held Saturday, also at the Sarasota Opera House.
"They're going to be doing contemporary flamenco and a lot of small pieces," Carreno said. "You'll be amazed to see young kids do such big stuff."
If you go
Carreno Dance Festival's "Festival of the Stars"When: 7 p.m. Aug. 24, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 25 Where: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota Tickets: $20-$65
What: Carreno Dance Festival's "Junior Stars of Tomorrow"When: 11 a.m. Aug. 18 Where: Sarasota Opera HouseTickets: $30, $15 (age 17 and younger)
Information: 941-954-4504 or www.carrenodancefestival.com
Special events: Preceding the "Festival of Stars" performance Aug. 24 will be a Champagne reception in the Opera Club at the Sarasota Opera, beginning at 5:15 p.m. The cost is $40 per person. Following the "Festival of Stars" program Aug. 25, an Au Revoir Dinner will be held at Michael's on East, 1212 East Ave. S., Sarasota, where guests can meet the dance stars. The cost is $100 a person. Tickets for either of these events may be obtained by calling Sally O'Neill at 941-342-1856 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow at Twitter.com/wtatangelo.