Last year, famed British choreographer Will Tuckett built a new work around the dancers of the Sarasota Ballet. It was called "Changing Light."
This year, he's back in Sarasota with a brand-new piece called "Lux Aeterna" -- "Eternal Light."
The world premiere of that ballet will be performed this weekend at the Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
The new large work -- it's about a half-hour long and uses 28 dancers -- is meant as a requiem and memorial.
"It's 2014, which is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I in Europe, and it's the year that the last American troops will be leaving the Middle East," Tuckett said.
The ballet is set to a requiem for choir and orchestra by American composer Morten Lauridsen. Lauridsen based his piece on several Latin texts that all contain references to light.
"It's not a downbeat piece," Tuckett said the music. "It's sad and it's beautiful but there's an element of hope to it, and I think that's reflected in the dance."
It's staged simply, with monochromatic costumes and lighting, but the performances by the dancers of the Sarasota Ballet don't need enhancement, Tuckett said.
"They are an incredibly hard-working company," he said. "They're really quick, and they're talented. They're wonderful to work with."
Also on the program for the weekend are works by George Balanchine and Sir Frederick Ashton. Both are new additions to the Sarasota Ballet's repertoire.
The program opens with "The Four Temperaments" one of Balanchine's best-known works, a lovely and musical series of solos, couples and quartets, concluding in an ensemble sequence. It's often cited as one the greatest ballets of the 20th century.
Ashton's "Sinfonietta," from 1967, has almost never been performed by an American company.
Both the Ashton and the Balanchine pieces are more have a more lively essence than his own new work, Tuckett said, so the program takes the audience through an emotional journey, with the requiem bookended by upbeat works.
"It's a beautifully balanced program," Tuckett said. "The Balanchine piece is energetic, and the Ashton is fun and upbeat. You're certainly getting your money's worth as an audience member."
Because of the strength of the program, and the general popularity of the Sarasota Ballet concerts in the winter months, a sixth performance has been added to this weekend's schedule, at 7 p.m. Monday.
Details: Jan. 31-Feb. 3 at the Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Monday. Tickets: $28.50-$100. Information: 941-359-0099, ext. 101, www.sarasotaballet.org
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.