Arts & Culture

Sarasota Ballet headlines triple play with a 1960s twist

Swingin’ Sixties, here we come. The Sarasota Ballet’s next program, which runs Friday through Jan. 31, features the North American debut of Matthew Bourne’s 1960s-inspired “Boutique.” The ballet is a spin on Leonide Massine’s classic ballet “Le Boutique Fantasque,” which is set in a Paris toy shop during the 1960s. There, the toys come to life. In Bourne’s revision, the action is set in a boutique on London’s Carnaby Street with Ken and Barbie, The Beatles, hippies and other characters associated with the flower power generation.“When he was making it, Matthew and I would just sit in the front and laugh because it was just silly,” artistic director Iain Webb said of the ballet, which premiered in London in 1995. “You’ve got the flower power people wearing their tinted glasses just going around with a peace sign. They’ve got big daises. ... A lot of the ’60s were silly.”And what better time to celebrate Carnaby Street as this year marks the 50th anniversary of London’s famed shopping district. It was during the 1960s that the street became an “iconic fashion destination,” according to Carnaby Street’s Web site, www.carnaby.co.uk. “Boutique” isn’t the only thing on January’s triple-bill program. Sarasota Ballet will also present Marius Petipa’s classical Russian ballet “Paquita” and Peter Darrell’s “Othello,” which is set to the music of Tchaikovsky.Local ballet enthusiasts are so excited about the triple bill that the ballet company added another performance to keep up with demand. “So it’s really catching the buzz again,” said Webb of his company.That’s not to say the ballet company has lacked for patrons in recent months. The last two programs, “Giselle” and “The Nutcracker,” drew a number of residents and school crowds. The Sarasota Ballet school is also growing. Webb said enrollment has grown from 70 students to 130, and there’s a waiting list. Funding for the school has gone from being in the red to in the black last year thanks to generous donors. The next goal for the school is to find more studio space and have students present more ballets to the public through outreach programs.“There’s a lot of good things happening,” Webb said. One of those good things is more touring. The ballet company has been invited by Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall to present a program next season. Plus, Webb said he has a big surprise to reveal in February during the company’s annual On Pointe Luncheon fundraiser.

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