The Sarasota Ballet is a small American ballet company based in Sarasota, Florida. It was founded in 1990 by former principal ballerina and choreographer Jean-Allenby Weidner and is now acclaimed in particular for its performances of Frederick Ashton's ballets under its director Iain Webb.
In 1987, Jean Weidner founded Sarasota Ballet as a presenting organization, establishing its status as a resident ballet company in 1990 with the appointment of Montreal choreographer Eddy Toussaint as its director. The first performance was presented on November 3, 1990 at the Sarasota Opera House. With the appointment of former Royal Ballet dancer Iain Webb as director in 2007, the company has achieved wide national and international recognition, especially for its many productions of Frederick Ashton's ballets. In June 2013, it presented Ashton's Les Patineurs in the Ballet Across America series at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and in May 2014, at its Frederick Ashton Festival it staged a wide selection of Ashton's works at the Saratoga Opera House. These included Birthday Offering, Illuminations, Les Rendezvous, Sinfonietta, and Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, all of which were highly acclaimed. By the end of the 2012-13 season, the company had staged 49 productions of which 26 were world premieres.
The company is fairly small with just 43 dancers (as of 2013), most of them young Americans. Among the principals are Danielle Brown, Victoria Hulland, Amy Wood, Ricardo Graziano, and Ricardo Rhodes.
Under Iain Webb's leadership, ticket sales grew from $300,000 in 2007 to over $1.2 million in 2013.
- "The Sarasota Ballet of Florida Inc". The Giving Partner. 21 April 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
- Diane Hubbard Robert de Warren. former director of the Ballet at la Scala, Milan, was appointed by a unanimous board vote, and became Artistic Director from 1994 to 2007. During his direction the Sarasota Ballet presented his successful productions of the classics, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, his The Nutcracker, Prokoviev's Cinderella, and many full length story ballets. He also presented several of his own ballets in the repertoire of companies like Northern Ballet Theatre in UK, Midsummer Night's Dream, (La Scala, Hong Kong Dance Co. Northern Ballet, Ballet Arizona etc.) Several works by Balanchine - Balanchine Foundation records: Rubies 1994, Apollo 1998, Concerto Barocco 2007, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, etc. Burns (18 March 1990). "New Sarasota Ballet Hires Toussaint To Head Company". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
- Robert Greskovic (5 May 2014). "Sarasota Celebrates Ashton". Wall Street Journal.
- Alistair Macaulay. "The Nation’s Ballet Talent, From Pliant to Virtuosic". Retrieved 9 June 2013.
- Gerald Dower (6 May 2014). "Ashton Festival, Sarasota Opera House, Florida – review". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 May 2014.