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Hot ticket | 'Contact' and Daniel Ulbricht and Friends

Ballet in different ways in Sarasota, St. Petersburg

Even though Contact, right, won the Tony Award for best musical in 2000, it isn't seen very often. That's because it's as much a ballet as musical theater, a "dance play'' created by director-choreographer Susan Stroman and writer John Weidman. There's little dialogue, the actors don't sing, and the music (on tape) ranges from Tchaikovsky to the Beach Boys to Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Now Asolo Repertory Theatre is collaborating with Sarasota Ballet to begin its season with this trilogy of stories on love, sex and relationships, featuring Shannon Lewis as the Girl in a Yellow Dress and directed by Tome Cousin. Contact opens Friday and runs through Nov. 22 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, Sarasota. $22-$60. There is a preview at 8 tonight with tickets priced $13-$35. (941) 351-8000 or toll-free 1-800-361-8388;

One of last year's dance highlights was the return of Daniel Ulbricht, left, to Mahaffey Theater. Ulbricht, who grew up in St. Petersburg, is now a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, and he staged an excellent afternoon of dance at the theater where he performed as a kid in The Nutcracker. Now he's doing it again and bringing with him a company that includes two other Tampa Bay area dancers who have made it with NYCB, Savannah Lowery and Ashley Laracey, in a program of Balanchine, Petipa and more.

"It's an opportunity to bring the best of New York to the places that don't have an opportunity to go there at an affordable price,'' Ulbricht says. "Any aspiring student can enjoy the performance, and anyone who doesn't know what dance truly is can leave changed.''

Daniel Ulbricht and Friends perform at 3 p.m. Sunday at Mahaffey. $25-$40. (727) 892-5767;

John Fleming, Times performing arts critic

Ballet in different ways in Sarasota, St. Petersburg 10/21/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 4:30am]
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