SARASOTA — They set flowers on the corner near the art museum Monday evening, then wandered through the serene grounds of the Ringling to the waterfront near the Ca d’Zan Mansion.
There, as the sun set behind Sarasota Bay, about 150 people shared memories and feelings at a sunset vigil that celebrated the life of Pedro Pupa.
Pupa, a promising and charismatic young member with the Sarasota Ballet’s corps de ballet, passed away June 4, hours after he was hit by a truck as he rode his bicycle home from rehearsal.
He was just a few weeks short of his 20th birthday.
“He honestly was just an amazing all-around person,” said his friend, Gabriela Johnson, who also dances with the Sarasota Ballet. “He had a beautiful smile. And he was a beautiful dancer.”
Pupa came to Sarasota from his home in Brazil to join the Sarasota Ballet. He was about to begin his third season. His best friend, Calvin Farias, was riding with him, heading to Pupa’s house, when the accident occurred. They had been roommates until about a month ago.
“He brought light to the whole world,” Farias said.
Besides the warmth of his personality, the friends said, Pupa was known as an exceptionally skilled dancer eager to help other company dancers. “He had immaculate technique,” Farias said.
Each visitor to Monday’s sunset vigil was invited to pick up a candle and a flower from the Ringling Visitor’s Center. After presentations by some speakers, including Farias; Sarasota Ballet assistant director Margaret Barbieri; and Ricardo Graziano, another Brazilian dancer with the Sarasota Ballet, each guest released a flowers into the bay waters. As the flowers drifted away, the guests lit their candles and toasted the life of Pedro Henrique Pupa.
Barbieri has called Pupa “our much-loved little angel,” and said he had a radiant smile, and a passion for life and for dancing.
Nate Jacobs, artistic director of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, provided music as the sun went down and the vigil came to a close.