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Sarasota Ballet's La Fille mal Gardee


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I drove down to Sarasota yesterday to see Sarasota Ballet's La Fille mal Gardee. I saw them do it season before last as well, I believe it was. I had a great time. This little company is a little gem that keeps surprising everyone!

Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri run the company, and they were taught this ballet by Ashton himself, I believe. You can tell they have prepared the ballet with loving care.

The sets and costumes were by Osbert Lancaster (same designs as the Royal Ballet and Royal Birmingham Ballet).

Ormsby Wilkins did a wonderful job conducting the Sarasota Orchestra. I heard things I hadn't noticed before.

Here was last night's main cast:

Lise Victoria Hulland

Colas Ricardo Rhodes

Alain Logan Learned

Widow Simone Ricki Bertoni

Hulland is a very beautiful woman, and that always helps to win a person over. She also acted splendidly creating a fully three dimensional character for Lise.....sort of naughty but a heart of gold. Her dancing was fine. I do tend to prefer ballerinas to have more flow to the upper body and arms, but since this was not the Mariinsky I understood I would not get that exactly, although Webb and Barbieri (she is not only Assistant Director but also the head of the school) seem to have stressed upper body more than most American companies, because during last spring's Ashton Festival I saw some nice flowing arms, and I felt the corps were doing their best to flow last night as well. Anyway, my only quibble is that I would have liked Hulland to use more flowing arms, but that is just a personal taste issue, and she did a great job otherwise. I do think Kate Honea the last time I saw this seemed slightly more at home with the steps, but I did enjoy Hulland. After she is embarrassed that Colas overheard her thoughts about having 3 babies with him, she was perfect when he started kissing her arm and then she gave him the other to kiss. That is probably my favorite moment in the ballet b/c you say, "Aw! True love!" and her embarrassment turning to "Okay, now kiss this other arm too" was perfect. A very dedicated dancer!

Ricardo Rhodes was great as Colas. I was glad to see him in top form, because I saw him last season in something and was slightly disappointed and so when I saw he was in my cast for La Fille this season I was a bit disappointed initially, but did he prove me wrong! He was great! Some great turns and he partnered very well too. When Colas dances around the two bottles of wine he actually made it look risky because he actually danced close to them as opposed to playing it safe and dancing at a safe distance. I would gladly see him dance again, so I am glad I got another chance to see him.

Anyone who has seen Logan Learned knows he is special. I have seen him twice as Alain now and in Ashton's Les Rendezvous (in the pas de trois) and as the Blue Boy in Les Patineurs. He is one of those rare artists who make you think, "I have just seen the best Blue Boy I will ever see!" or "I have just seen the best Alain I will ever see!" He is that great in movement, facial expressions, acting, timing, and musicality. He really belongs in a major company. However, the problem is that he is a very petite dancer who is probably limited in what roles he can dance at least in the classical repetoire. In abstract ballets there are plenty he could dance. Anyway, my advice is to RUN, not walk to a ballet with his name listed in the cast. It is hard to believe you can see someone of his caliber in a small company in a small city. He is amazing!

Rick Bertoni was great as the Widow Simone. His clog dance was terrific. He also has great comic timing (like Learned). His "on purpose" slips in the clogs looked like real slips if you didn't know the ballet. And Bertoni did not overdo the character the way it is easily exaggerated. I felt he attempted to make the Widow real as opposed to just an over the top caricature.

Anyway, I know not many people get a chance to go to Sarasota, but if you do and your visit coincides with a Sarasota Ballet show, you should definitely check them out! Some great things are happening there.

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