The Sarasota Ballet returns next month with Iain Webb directing 42 dancers, compared to last year's 38, and an international lineup of productions that include seven world premieres and more live music.
Representing nine countries -- Australia, Brazil, China, England, Italy, Israel, Japan, Spain and the United States -- the dancers of this year's company are trained in a wide range of styles. The diverse company has 25 women and 22 men, including apprentices.
"In the past, our company's size has limited us from performing many of the great classics, which require a large number of dancers," Webb said in a statement. "This year we can fill those numbers and that helps make The Sarasota Ballet more competitive with leading companies around the nation."
Performing alongside the 18 new dancers are 29 returning dancers and nine trainees. Kate Honea, principal, will be dancing in her 11th season with The Sarasota Ballet.
"From the expansion of our repertoire and now the growth of the company, I've watched a rewarding transformation take place," Honea said.
"We've evolved from a small regional dance company to a strong, diverse, classical ballet company. I can only imagine the wonderful things that are still yet to come."
This season The Sarasota Ballet will offer seven programs, highlighted in December by the world premiere of a customized production of "The Nutcracker" and in April with the performance of Sir Frederick Ashton's full-length ballet "La Fille mal Gardée (The Wayward Daughter)."
"The growth makes all the hard work seem so worthwhile. I feel honored and proud to dance here," Honea said. "I can't wait to 'wow' audiences."
The 2012-2013 Sarasota Ballet season:
Program 1: The Sarasota Ballet Presents: The Paul Taylor Dance Company including Taylor's "The Uncommitted," Oct. 26-28, 2012, FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Program 2: Sir Frederick Ashton's "Symphonic Variations," Christopher Wheeldon's "There Where She Loved" (with live music), Paul Taylor's "Company B," Nov. 16-17, Sarasota Opera House.
Program 3: "The Nutcracker" world premiere choreography by Matthew Hart, designs by Peter Docherty, music by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky and accompanied by the Sarasota Orchestra, Dec. 14-15, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Program 4: Sir Frederick Ashton's "Birthday Offering," a new work by Will Tuckett, Feb. 1-3, FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Program 5: Sir Frederick Ashton's "Les Rendevous," Sir Antony Tudor's "Lilac
Garden," Dominic Walsh's "I Napoletani," March 1-3, FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Program 6: Sir Frederick Ashton's "La Fille mal Gardée (The Wayward Daughter)" accompanied by live orchestra, April 18-19, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Program 7: "Theatre of Dreams" is a program presenting world premieres of new works choreographed by dancers of The Sarasota Ballet accompanied by live music, May 3-5, FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Details: Tickets may be purchased online with Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover at www.sarasotaballet.org. The box office can be contacted by calling 941-359-0099, ext.101.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.