The Orlando Ballet celebrates 50 years with U.S. premiere production of 'Casanova'

Act Two: At the gaming table (Credit: Michael Cairns)

The Orlando Ballet Company has an inspiring history, starting in 1974 as the Performing Arts Company of Florida with just $4,000 and 12 volunteer dancers. In 1978, it evolved into the Southern Ballet Theatre and performed at the Bob Carr Theater. Now, in 2024, known as the Orlando Ballet Company, it is commemorating 50 years and performing every season at the Dr. Phillips Center. 

As the only fully residential ballet company in Central Florida, it employs 25 full-time national and international dancers and supports pre-professional dancers through Orlando Ballet II, the second company that also serves as a dance school. 

To celebrate this milestone, the company is presenting a unique performance, "Casanova". Choreographed by Kenneth Tindall, this bold and sensual ballet brings to life the story of Giacomo Casanova, the legendary womanizer who was also an intellect, a gambler and creative. 

Act Two: Despair (Credit: Michael Cairns)

Tindall's interpretation, accompanied by the sexually charged music of composer Kerry Muzzey, promises a larger-than-life ballet experience. This award-winning production, originally from the UK, is making its North American debut through a collaboration between Orlando Ballet, Colorado Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet. 

Artistic Director Jorden Morris believes that productions like "Casanova" represent the future of making big, expensive, lavish ballets more accessible to the public as a complement to the standard classics already available. 

Guest Conductor Julian Pellicano leads the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, adding live music that enhances the performance's dramatic and opulent feel. Set in 18th-century Venice, Italy, Tindall’s lavish production includes iconic Venetian masquerades, period costumes, and grand choreography that vividly portrays how Casanova's ambitions for a career in the Holy Orders were derailed by his own decadence. 

The cast of 27 dancers is adorned in 18th-century Venetian costumes and moves gracefully across the stage, each wearing a headpiece or wig to match their character. The process of installation, learned and perfected by the crew and dancers, completely transforms the dancers in minutes. 

One of the standout performers is 22-year-old Amir Dodarkhojayev, a second-year member of the Orlando Ballet Company, who brings life to the character of Casanova through his talent of dance and acting. His dedication to both the choreography and the story of Casanova is evident. 

Orlando Ballet Company member, Amir Dodarkhojayev, playing the role of Casanova.

This mesmerizing production had its opening night on Thursday and will continue to run through Sunday. For more information about tickets, you can find it here.