This year marks Iain Webb’s 10th season as director of the Sarasota Ballet, so the season will focus a lot on looking back at some of the great moments from the company’s past decade.
But Webb and the Sarasota Ballet will be looking ahead as well.
For its first program of the season, the Ballet will feature works by Walsh, Graziano, Tudor and Layton.
Dominic Walsh’s “Wolfgang for Webb” was the first piece that Webb commissioned for the Sarasota Ballet. (He asked for a piece to be titled “Wolfgang,” but Walsh surprised him by adding “for Webb.”) Walsh went on to become the company’s first resident choreographer. The current resident choreographer, Ricardo Graziano, will premiere his “Sonata in Four Movement” at this concert.
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That will be followed by the Sarasota Ballet premiere of “Continuo,” by the great British-American choreographer Anthony Tudor.
But perhaps the highlight promises to be “The Grand Tour,” a narrative ballet by Joe Layton. Layton, who was best known for his Tony Award-winning Broadway work, originally set the piece on the Royal Ballet, and the lead role was danced by Margaret Barbieri, who is now married to Webb. The lead dancer in the Sarasota Ballet staging will wear Barbieri’s dress from that original staging in the 1970s.
The story of the piece has to do with a woman in the 1930s who takes a cruise by herself, and finds that her fellow passengers are all the biggest film stars of the day. She fears that none of her friends will believe her, so she tries to collect mementos from each, including a lock of Mary Pickford’s hair and the ash from Noel Coward’s cigarette. The Sarasota Ballet first staged the work five years ago.
One night in the 1970s, after a performance with the Royal Ballet, Barbieri heard a knock on her dressing room door. She opened the door and saw Coward himself, who had come to tell her how much he loved the piece and her performance.
Webb, as a young dancer, also had one of his first roles in “Grand Tour” as a stowaway.
Details: Oct. 28-30, Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $30-$115. 941-359-0099, sarasotaballet.org.