The Sarasota Ballet Brings Ashton to Royal Audiences

The Sarasota Ballet Brings Ashton to Royal Audiences

The Royal Ballet presents The Sarasota Ballet for an all Ashton Program at The Royal Opera House, June 4th to 9th, 2024 in Covent Garden, London

Sarasota, FL (April 26th, 2023) – The Sarasota Ballet today announces its first international tour to London at the invitation of The Royal Ballet’s Director Kevin O’Hare. The Sarasota Ballet, over seven performances from June 4th through 9th of 2024, will perform two programs and culminate with an elegant gala performance during its one-week residency in the Linbury Theatre within Royal Opera House. These specially curated performances are dedicated to and will feature the works of renowned choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.

“This first international tour by the Company is very much a homecoming for both Director Iain Webb and Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri,” explains Joseph Volpe, Executive Director. “Iain and Maggie’s remarkable careers on stage with The Royal Ballet have been a huge influence on the Company and have catapulted The Sarasota Ballet’s transformation into the internationally recognized Company it is today. This invitation by The Royal Ballet is a huge milestone in the history of our Company.”

Both Webb and Barbieri danced for many years with The Royal Ballet and with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, which was the precursor to today’s Birmingham Royal Ballet. During their tenure, Barbieri as a Principal and Webb as a First Soloist, they danced numerous iconic principal and featured roles in ballets around the world. During this time, it was the ballets of founding choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton that left an indelible mark on both Webb and Barbieri. Their passion for Ashton and his choreographic legacy has played a truly integral role in the growth and trajectory of The Sarasota Ballet.

“Honoring the works of Sir Fred has been an inspiration to us and performing his ballets has cemented the Company’s place in the world of ballet,” says Webb. “Margaret and I have talked for a few years about holding another Ashton Festival like we did in 2014, and so while in conversation with Kevin to discuss upcoming projects, I mentioned this idea. From there, it evolved into this truly marvelous invitation and partnership. Sir Fred and his works have been an inspiration to me throughout my career and being able to pay tribute to him in this manner, and at the Opera House, is truly indescribable for me.”

Royal Ballet Director, Kevin O’Hare, comments, “It has been an immense pleasure to extend this invitation to our wonderful former Royal Ballet colleagues who have shown so much commitment to preserving the legacy of Frederick Ashton. We very much look forward to welcoming Iain, Margaret and the dancers of The Sarasota Ballet to the Royal Opera House for this very special shared celebration of Ashton across both our stages.”

The performances, which will feature several rare Ashton ballets, will mark the start of a five-year world-wide program spearheaded by the Frederick Ashton Foundation, duly named Ashton Celebrated. Both The Sarasota Ballet and The Royal Ballet will perform Ashton programs during this concurrent Ashton celebration within the Royal Opera House. In addition, the two companies will come together for collaborative performances throughout the week. During The Sarasota Ballet’s June 7th Gala evening in the Linbury Theatre, dancers from The Royal Ballet will perform as well, while The Sarasota Ballet will perform Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Walk to the Paradise Garden as a part of The Royal Ballet’s program on the main stage. Other works performed by The Sarasota Ballet will include Valses nobles et sentimentales, Dante Sonata, Sinfonietta, Façade, Varii Capricci, and a selection of divertissements to be announced at a later date.

“I can’t fully express how meaningful this is to be able to give our wonderful dancers the opportunity to perform in the Royal Opera House,” explains Barbieri. “Not only will our Company be able to perform on such a prestigious stage, but to be instrumental in returning these works to their spiritual home, after so many years, will be so incredibly special for Iain and I, the dancers, and for the audience.”

Program Information

Program 1
(2024 – June 4, 5, 6, 9)
Valses nobles et sentimentales
Dante Sonata

Gala Performance
(2024 – June 7)
Valses nobles et sentimentals
Varii Capricci

Program 2
(2024 – June 8, two performances)
Valses nobles et sentimentales
Ashton Divertissements

About The Sarasota Ballet

Since 1990, the mission of The Sarasota Ballet has been enriching lives, captivating emotions, and strengthening the community through the art of dance. Under the leadership of Director Iain Webb, Executive Director Joseph Volpe, and Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri, The Sarasota Ballet has received national and international recognition for its diverse repertoire of rarely performed ballets, as well as the integrity and artistry of its performances. The Company’s expansive repertoire includes works by world-renowned choreographers such as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Sir David Bintley, Sir Matthew Bourne, Dame Ninette de Valois, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Through the collective endeavors of The Sarasota Ballet School, the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory, and the organization’s Community Engagement Program, The Sarasota Ballet aims to share the beauty and artistry of dance with the entire community. The Company has also toured extensively during Webb’s tenure, having been invited to perform twice at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., twice at the Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center, and the inaugural National Choreographic Festival in Salt Lake City, as well as week-long residencies at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and twice at the Joyce Theater in New York. In August of 2022, The Sarasota Ballet returned to the Joyce Theater for another sold out week-long residency. To sustain the appreciation of the art form through the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Sarasota Ballet presented a fully digital Season to ballet patrons around the globe, maintaining support for their dancers and staff throughout the year.

For more information, visit: SarasotaBallet.org