BECKET, MA - In keeping with his history as a dancer who regularly threw up from nerves before performances, as of the morning before the Sarasota Ballet's final performance at Jacob's Pillow, Artistic Director Iain Webb had yet to read the half dozen reviews that had come in assessing his company's week-long residency at America's most venerable dance festival.
"After," said Webb
, referring to a time following the company's final performance Sunday afternoon, when he
would allow himself to read the critiques.
"Then I'll decide which ones to cut up for toilet paper and which ones will go in the archives."
Dancers of the Sarasota Ballet and co-directors Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri, pose on the "Pillow Rock" at Jacob's Pillow, where the company had a successful debut. The dancers are wearing t-shirts that read "#weightless," given to them as a thank-you gift by their colleague, Ricardo Graziano, whose newest ballet, "In a State of Weightlessness," had its world premiere at the festival. / HT photo by Carrie Seidman
Dancers of the Sarasota Ballet and co-directors Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri, pose on the "Pillow Rock" at Jacob's Pillow, where the company had a successful debut.
In fact, Webb
had little to fear.
"They've come into the spotlight and done themselves, the choreographers and the city proud," said Webb
Even before the dancers caught their flight back to Sarasota today, Webb
was headed to New York City for scheduled interviews with the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller and Forbes
-- who bought a home in Sarasota and signed an unheard-of 10-year contract last year to quell insecurity about his
intentions after visitors who "didn't just 'happen' to be in Sarasota" started showing up at performances -- also professed no attraction to moving on to a higher profile situation.
With its still-skeletal administrative staff, "there are still a lot of things we need to fix in the organization," Webb
And the ambitious home season that lies ahead - which includes two more Ashton ballets, "Enigma Variations" and "Marguerite and Armand," neither of which has ever been performed by an American company - will absorb plenty of attention before the company's first performances in Sarasota in October.
Webb said he
will continue to be judicious in his
acceptance of invitations elsewhere and has advised Graziano to be equally careful in choosing where his
growing collection of ballets might be performed.
The company maintains rights over Graziano's ballets for a few more years and Webb is closely mentoring his
prodigy in terms of new projects and the staging of his
"Even though we've had a very nice reception here, if someone came up to me tomorrow and asked if we'd like to dance at the Met (the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City), I would say no," he