Sarasota Ballet world premiere of Bintley’s ‘A Comedy of Errors’, a lavish feast

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One had to wonder what Sarasota Ballet’s world premiere of British choreographer David Bintley’s “A Comedy of Errors” might have looked like if Earth hadn’t just emerged from a global pandemic.

There would have been heaps of buzz, a mad dash for tickets and a crescendo of anticipation. It would have attracted ballet enthusiasts from all over the country and across the pond and all the dance critics still in existence (which is, admittedly, very few), not just the British creative team who were there. – Bintley, composer Matthew Hindson, designer Dick Bird, production supervisor Doug Nicholson and guest conductor Paul Murphy of Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB).

Importantly, there would have been no empty seats in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the standing ovation at the end of the ballet would have lasted at least half the intermission.

Continued:Sarasota Ballet presents the world premiere of Sir David Bintley’s ‘Comedy of Errors’

Because that’s the kind of recognition this production deserved. The world’s newest ballet of stories is a fun, funny, flaw-filled, fantastical game that erases all thoughts of war and despots, pestilence and politics, and replaces them with a sumptuous feast for the senses and a sunny solace for the soul. If you weren’t there, I promise you’re sorry.

Bintley, a longtime friend of Sarasota Ballet director Iain Webb – they were both dancers with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet where Bintley distinguished himself as a beloved character dancer before spending 24 years as director of the BRB – have chosen the local company to realize their vision, bringing Shakespeare’s play to modern times and the party island of Ibiza on Spain’s Costa del Sol. He did it, he said, because he admired the dancers’ effervescence, technical ease and flair for the theater, and he felt they could capture this farce on two pairs of twin brothers, separated at birth, who coincidentally reunited 30 years later. later, causing misunderstandings and chaos.

Danielle Brown and Ivan Spitale in

And he wasn’t wrong. While all credit goes to Bintley for his choreographic mastery and impeccable comedic timing, and to Hindson for a score that ranges from hard-hitting techno beats to fiery Latin beats to a lyrical adagio, it’s the dancers of Sarasota Ballet who make every scene of this bombastic lark is a delight and a funny laugh.

Setting up the prologue goes through a series of projected “vintage” photographs, through which we learn that two sun-hungry Brits, Dawn (Taylor Sambola) and Kimberly (former company dancer Sareen Tchekmedyian appearing as guest artist ) who visited Ibiza in the 70s, the two gave birth to identical twins nine months later, each giving up one child for adoption. Thirty years later, the women return to Ibiza with their sons Anthony (Ivan Spitale) and Derek (Andrea Marcelletti), unaware that the boys’ brothers, Tony (Ricardo Graziano) and Del (Arcadian Broad), are in residence there.

For the next 90 minutes, there are countless near misses between the estranged brothers, as Tony cheats on his wife Adriana (Danielle Brown) with his meaningless mistress, Erotia (Victoria Hulland); Anthony flirts with his bookish sister, Luciana (Marijana Dominis); a dodgy jeweler (Luke Schaufuss) provides a necklace that becomes a bond between the female rivals; and Del and Derek (in red wigs with frizzy hair) frolic good-naturedly in a state of confusion. Meanwhile, a corps of city dwellers, vacationers and ‘hooligans’ – who often mistake a brother for his twin – add to the confusion and ignite the party mood, whether in a ‘beachersize’ classroom, in a rave nightclub or at a drunken revelry.

It’s predictable… and not either. Ballet connoisseurs will get a chuckle during a brief classic interlude when a female body in pointe shoes and bikinis interrupts tennis shoes and high heels. And just as things teeter on the edge of slapstick, comes a most painful piano solo pas de deux between Tony and Adriana who are almost fighting over the heart.

Ivan Spitale and Andrea Marcelletti in the Sarasota Ballet "A comedy of errors"

Picking one of the dancers is an unintentional injustice to the others, but audiences couldn’t get enough of Brown’s wonderful fluidity; the vertiginous turns of Broad; Spitale’s charisma; and the priceless buffoonery of lead character Ricki Bertoni’s dancer, as an incompetent but arrogant police officer who doubles as an incompetent but exuberant flamenco dancer (and, in the end, reveals a surprising twist). Even the non-dancing roles are remarkable, with Sambola capturing the choppy body language of a middle-aged tourist and Christopher Hird and Octavio Martin of the ballet’s educational staff filling in brilliantly in minor roles.

It’s Hindson’s diverse and eclectic score – performed with ease by Sarasota’s multi-faceted orchestra – that pulls it all together, aided by Aaron Muhl’s lighting, which instantly takes us from a scorched pool deck by the sun at Club Paradiso lit by strobes. , with a multitude of twinkling stars in the night sky. Bird’s sets and costumes also hit the mark, capturing the vibrancy of both the location and the wardrobe of the young, fit and beautiful.

Commissioning a ballet of this magnitude is a costly and enormous undertaking; doing so in an age of restrictions, risks and regulations is even more impressive. So kudos to Webb, his staff and the company’s supporters for making this commitment against all odds.

As I was leaving the theater, someone asked, “So what happens to this ballet now?” I can’t say, but I know what should happen: “A Comedy of Errors” should be performed near and far and become a valuable and permanent part of the canon of contemporary dance.

Contact Carrie Seidman at [email protected] or 505-238-0392.

Sarasota Ballet

World premiere of “Comedy of Errors” by Sir David Bintley. 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 26. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail. Tickets at 941-359-0099 or sarasotaballet.org.

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