BY JOHN FLEMING
Times Performing Arts Critic
After a long hiatus, the Dance Theatre of Harlem is on stage again. Founded in 1969, the company had an illustrious profile as a vehicle for African-Americans in dance but stopped performing in 2004 because of management problems (including $2.3 million in debt). Now, with 18 mostly black dancers and directed by former prima ballerina Virginia Johnson, it is back and bringing a program to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday.
Dance Theatre will perform much of the repertory that reintroduced the company in New York this month, including standards such as George Balanchine's Agon and the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake. Resident choreographer Robert Garland will be represented by two works: Gloria, set to music of Poulenc, and Return, a ballet to James Brown and Aretha Franklin.
Sarasota Ballet performs Frederick Ashton's masterwork La Fille mal Gardee (The Wayward Daughter) today and Friday at Van Wezel Hall. The staging by director Iain Webb and his wife, Margaret Barbieri, is noteworthy because both were friends of the British choreographer and danced his works with the Royal Ballet.
Student dancers are out in full force this weekend. At Hillsborough Community College, the dance program is one day into its sixth annual "Four Days of Dance." The work of local choreographers, such as Christina Acosta, Paula Kramer, Jack Clark and Shelley Dignum, will be featured through Saturday at the Mainstage Theatre on the Ybor City campus. At the University of South Florida, student choreographers are showcased in performances Friday and Saturday at Theater 1 on the Tampa campus.
In spring 2014, Urban Bush Women will have a weeklong residency at the University of Tampa. Members of the company are on campus this weekend for a number of events, including a Saturday morning workshop, "Dance for Every Body," free and open to the public. No dance experience necessary.
John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.