NYCB’s Summer Home: Saratoga Springs

Ballet in Cleveland’s friend Emily Volz visited historic Saratoga Springs this past July. As summer comes to a close, let’s reflect on her visit to see the New York City Ballet- many of its dancers will be here in Cleveland this fall in The Ashley Bouder Project!

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Last weekend (July 11-13), I went to Saratoga Springs, New York to see the New York City Ballet perform. Saratoga Springs has been the summer home of the company since 1966 when founder George Balanchine first established a residency. I was lucky enough to be able to watch two performances, both the matinee and evening shows on Saturday, the last day of the company’s stay. The matinee included six shorter ballets, all incredible. My favorite was This Bitter Eartha ballet only 5 minutes in length, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and set to vocals by Dinah Washington. Danced by Tyler Angle and the breathtaking Wendy Whelan, it’s easy to see why this was a favorite. Wendy is retiring from the company this fall at age 47 after a 30-year career and it was an honor to be able to witness her final SPAC performance. The evening performance was the annual gala and consisted of 3 ballets. Wendy also performed in the evening in another Wheeldon piece titled After the Rain. My favorite ballet of the evening was one that I had actually seen once before, Union Jack. It’s an homage to the United Kingdom in three parts and requires 74 dancers.

One of the best traditions NYCB’s residency at SPAC is that of the stage door. After performances, or at intermission, patrons may go to the door that the dancers exit from to get autographs from and pictures with their favorite dancers. This tradition is very popular with kids attending the School of American Ballet summer intensive, who get to visit for one day and watch the company perform. The matinee performance I attended happened to be when the summer intensive was visiting. There were at least a hundred young dancers waiting at the stage door. It was very exciting to see so many young people interested in ballet! At the stage door I got the chance to meet principal dancers; Maria Kowroski, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Chase Finlay and soloist Lauren Lovette.

Amar is one of the dancers coming to Cleveland this fall for the Ashley Bouder Project that Ballet in Cleveland is hosting on Playhouse Square. I mentioned to him that I was going to be at Playhouse Square this October and he was excited that I was coming! He introduced himself with his first name and asked me what my name is, and told me he would remember me this October! This encounter made me all the more excited for the Ashley Bouder Project. I was also able to see Ashley Bouder and Zachary Catazaro, who are also coming to Cleveland this October, perform on the stage at SPAC.

NYCB’s residency at SPAC is very important to help the ballet reach people who may not be able to travel to NYC during the year, such as myself. This is the same reason why Ballet in Cleveland is so vital for our city. People who might otherwise find classical ballet to be inaccessible, as we no longer have a company of this nature, are able to enjoy one of the best companies in the world. My hope is that one day we might be able to have our own company in Cleveland, but for that to happen a love and appreciation for the arts must be fostered. Ballet in Cleveland is helping rejuvenate the appreciation and recognition of ballet within our community. As a ballet lover, I am so happy to be able to take part in such an organization that shares the same passions and hopes for our city!

Images and blog by: Emily Volz

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