|In Conversation with the Sarasota Ballet's Ricardo Graziano|
Two years ago, Ricardo leapt onto the Sarasota stage to great ovation. Last year, he made his choreographic debut to critical acclaim and in addition Ricardo led the Company on its first visit to the nation’s capital at the John F. Kennedy Center.
What does being a part of The Sarasota Ballet mean to you?
The Sarasota Ballet has become my family. How hard I dance and the choreographic work I create has a huge impact on the Company and me, therefore I give 100% to make it better each time we’re on stage. The Sarasota Ballet has given me so many opportunities and is an amazing part of my life – very special moments for me
In your opinion, what is so special about The Sarasota Ballet?
The fact that we feel like a big family – you don’t get that with companies these days. Everyone wants to be here, I never felt that way with my previous Company or the trainee program I attended in Germany. They made for a depressive environment, but not here – everyone supports each other. It’s because of Iain and Maggie’s leadership (Iain Webb and Margaret
Barbieri) – they truly care about the dancers! Also, the rep here is really diverse and the ballets we perform are what dancers dream about performing since childhood! I can’t forget to mention the possibilities Iain gives his dancers – for me, it was the opportunity to see my choreography on stage.
Looking at the season ahead, how do you feel about the rep in 2012/2013?
Long and tiring, for sure! (Laughs) I’m very excited and know the outcome will be tremendous, but there is a lot of work to do. Iain brings so many great ballets to Sarasota and this season will be the most challenging to date.
Regarding your choreography, how has The Sarasota Ballet helped you along the way?
I’ve always wanted to choreograph and The Sarasota Ballet has given me the opportunity to do that professionally for the first time! When I was hired, I knew nothing about Theatre of Dreams [The Sarasota Ballet’s end-of-year showcase for Company dancers’ original choreography] and never imagined Iain would ask me to set one of my ballets on the Company but was happily surprised! It comes back to all of us being a family and the leadership Iain provides – he trusts us to create. He’s willing to take the risk on us artistically.
What have you learned through the process of putting together Theatre of Dreams?
It’s so eye-opening! It’s not just about choreographing – there’s lighting, technical crew, music, budget, sets & designs – very challenging to be on the other side artistically! But I enjoyed it very much. Because of Iain’s support, it helped me not hold back and push harder than I probably would elsewhere. As dancers, we are more comfortable with classical ballet (it’s what we do every day in class) so I wanted to look outside the box with Symphony of Sorrows. It was a modern piece so I had to work 300% harder to get all that fluidity and emotion out of the dancers. In the end, it was so rewarding to see how hard all the dancers worked to make it such a success.
What are the 3 top events you look forward to the most in the upcoming season?
I can’t choose only 3! (Laughs)
• Definitely Matthew Hart and Peter Docherty’s new Nutcracker. I believe in Matthew and Peter and their ideas are brilliant. This production will be a huge deal for Sarasota and I’m looking forward to the end result.
• I’m also looking forward to La Fille mal Gardée. There’s so much to this ballet – fun, drama, comedy, sadness – it’s one of (Frederick) Ashton’s masterpieces. I love character roles and would LOVE to be in the second cast in the role of Mother.
• Ashton’s Symphonic Variations is a beautiful piece and very challenging. It’s been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.
• Getting the opportunity to dance again at The Kennedy Center for Ballet Across America in June is a huge deal for us! I’ve been there twice before, once with Tulsa Ballet and with Sarasota Ballet last October, but I’m very excited to do it again.
• [TEASER] Also the possibility to work with the dancers
again choreographing – there’s definitely more to come!