Azara Ballet: Trailblazers Changing Ballet Culture For the Better

A transformation is occurring in Sarasota that could very well become a model nationwide for ballet companies who want to join the “inclusion revolution.”

Azara Ballet launches on November 17 & 18 with the mission to transform outdated, unhealthy paradigms of ballet culture by providing a non-judgmental, body-positive atmosphere. This translates into recruiting atypical professional ballet dancers of every body type, and promoting mental well-being, especially for atypical individuals who are neurodivergent or even on the autism spectrum. Because dance is a non-verbal language, the program can enhance the mind-body connection, social skills, artistic and emotional expression, connection with oneself and others, physical coordination, and a sense of musicality.

To date, Azara has 14 professional male and female dancers who will demonstrate their collective empowerment in “Expressions,” – a collection of 4 short cutting-edge contemporary ballets showcasing the creative vision of emerging and diverse choreographers. The captivating production promises to ignite your emotions, as you are immersed in a world of stunning movement, evocative music, and profound artistic expression.

Kate Flowers, co-founder and director of Azara, says the ballet company “deeply cares for the mental and physical well-being of their dancers.”  She and her co-founder, Martin Roosaare, have been working for months to create a body-positive, healthy ballet culture that nurtures an inclusive community where dance wholeheartedly embraces the celebration of body positivity and the kaleidoscope of individuality. Within the ballet world, Azara hopes to radiate “a resolute commitment to breaking new ground as trailblazers for representation and inclusivity.”

The idea of an inclusive ballet community stemmed from her adolescence in Cincinnati, where Flowers no longer could study and perform ballet because she suffered from an eating disorder (common to many ballerinas). After over a decade without dance, she focused on recovery and used her newfound passion for wellness to focus on developing  Azara Ballet to fulfill a lifelong desire to dance professionally, changing the ballet narrative for the better and to inspire others to never give up on their dreams.

She chose the name “Azara” after she and Roosaare researched into the origins of Sarasota. “We stumbled on map from the 1700’s and discovered that the city was once known as “Zara Zota,” loosely translated as “a place of dancing.”  The duo focused on a name that would truly reflect their  identity and embrace uniqueness, rearranging certain letters to form “Azara.” And undoubtedly, it will be a place of dancing.

Kate Flowers, co-founder of Sarasota’s new Azara Ballet

​While Azara will WOW their audience at their inaugural show November 17, they are also offering two creative and unique Dance Initiative Programs to the community.

Azara Ballet’s Atypical Dance Initiative program aims to enhance the lives of these individuals through fun, interactive ballet to neurodivergent pre-school children ages 3-5 in partnership with The Haven, a local non-profit established in 1954 that houses and educates people with disabilities.

The “Brains, Balance and Ballet” program was created for people with Parkinson’s Disease. There are many programs across the world that are having amazing success with seated, modified ballet classes for people with movement disorders. The benefits are extraordinary, including enhanced movement and more.


Link for in person tickets:

Or they can call the SCF box office:

See trailer video here

Buy Livestream tickets here

Short & Suite Christmas Show

December 20-23, 2023
Celebrate the holiday season with Azara Ballet’s enchanting production, “Short & Suite.” Immerse yourself in a delightful blend of classical and contemporary ballet as we present an hour of pure entertainment and joy for the entire family. This captivating show features a mesmerizing act of Nutcracker Suite excerpts, followed by a spirited performance set to contemporary holiday music. Join us for a magical journey that will leave you with cherished memories and festive cheer.
A mesmerizing act of Nutcracker Suite excerpts, followed by a spirited performance set to contemporary holiday music. Choreographed by: Martin Roosaare. Get tickets here for Short & Suite.

~Andrea Martone
Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone is Sarasota Event Calendar’s Chief Editor. She is the former A & E Editor for Sarasota Observer Newspapers and is currently a public relations consultant.

Andrea Martone

Andrea Martone is a former Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Sarasota Observer Newspaper Group, as well as a former Editor-in-Chief of a Long Island (New York) newspaper chain. She moved to Sarasota 14 years ago after working as an executive in NYC in public relations and marketing. She currently is a Public relations & marketing consultant and President of Insightful PR. She lives and breathes all things art, culture, music food and wine and is proud to be the Executive Editor of Sarasota Events Calendar.

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