The Sarasota Ballet: Distinctly Marcelo
World-renowned dancer Marcelo Gomes has come to Sarasota to choreograph a world premiere ballet for the Sarasota Ballet, which will debut as part of a three-ballet performance titled Metropolitan, taking place at the Sarasota Opera House on December 1st and 2nd.
by Steven J. Smith
A native of Brazil, Gomes has been a principal dancer at New York’s American Ballet Theatre for the last 20 years. He has starred as a guest artist with the Mariinsky Ballet and The Royal Ballet, among many other international companies and made his debut with the Bolshoi Ballet in 2013.
Gomes said he has not titled his piece yet.
“That’s the first thing people ask and the last thing I give my ballet,” he laughed. “I’ve been to the Sarasota Ballet twice now. I first danced at a gala event that Director Iain Webb and the ballet threw, where I did a solo by Jorma Elo, a choreographer from Finland. Then they invited me back to play the artist in the ballet ‘Two Pigeons.’ A stronger bond started happening with the company and the dancers there. I got inspired by them and I showed Iain some of my choreography and he asked me to come in and do a ballet for them.”
Gomes is widely admired for his combination of technical prowess, fine acting and beautiful form. He is ranked as one of the top three male dancers in the world known for his athleticism, artistry, dedication, work ethic and collaborative nature – not to mention his movie star looks and fashionable style. Beyond his ballet and acting talents, Gomes projects a dynamic persona, yet he was humbled to work at Sarasota Ballet.
“I really applaud Iain and the whole company for taking a chance on a new work,” he said. “Whenever ballet companies do new works, it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. But it’s an important aspect in the growth of the company, to keep on creating new movements and new works.”
The other two ballets on the bill include Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Illuminations” and the company premiere of George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations.” The ballets will be performed with live music provided by the Sarasota Orchestra, conducted by American Ballet Theatre Music Director Ormsby Wilkins.
“I really applaud Iain and the whole company for taking a chance on a new work. Whenever ballet companies do new works, it’s a bit of a shot in the dark.”
Gomes said his ballet is set to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.
“It’s a very grand score,” he said. “I’m doing all four movements. It’s about a man who is about to die. Right before he passes away, he decides to write a letter to his life.”
In that letter, he added, the man thanks life for all he has been given. In so doing, he revisits his youth and his first love, along with the fears he encountered and conquered. Principal and ensemble dancers of the Sarasota Ballet will portray the people he meets along the journey of his life.
“He then returns to the present time, where he’s going to pass away,” Gomes said.
“He dies a very happy death, satisfied with the way he has lived his life.”
Gomes added he has created this ballet as a way to show his own thanks for the opportunities and
accolades he has enjoyed during his own life and career.
“I think it’s important to be thankful for the life that we have right now,” he said. “And not to get too caught up in life’s day to day issues. It’s also essential not to wait until it is too late to realize that we have so many amazing moments in our lives. We need to appreciate them. I wanted to create a ballet about that.”
Although he is primarily known as a dancer, Gomes has been choreographing professionally for about seven years. But he has had choreography in his blood far longer than that.
“I’ve been dancing around the living room and creating movement for as far back as I can remember,” he laughed. “I created a ballet back when I was 15 or 16 for my school. It was a real awakening, realizing I enjoyed doing this.”
Gomes added what means the most to him is the creative process — working with his fellow dancers in the studio and bouncing ideas off of them.
“I want to create something that’s very beautiful and challenging for dancers,” he said. “I want them to feel they can’t wait to perform this. As for the audience, I hope they’ll see through this ballet that they too have much to be thankful for in life.”
Metropolitan will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on December 1st and at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on December 2nd at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave. in Sarasota. Ticket prices start at $30. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 941-359-0099 or visit www.sarasotaballet.org.
Love the ballet? Read more about The Sarasota Ballet here.