There’s nothing more sublime than a summer evening spent watching New York City Ballet (NYCB) perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). It doesn’t matter if you’re in a front row seat or in your folding chair on the lawn, drinking wine and watching your kids chase fireflies.
In 1966, George Balanchine, Eugene Ormandy, and Lincoln Kirstein, helped to make SPAC a reality. Through their efforts and the support of the community, Saratoga became the summer home of both NYCB and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I can’t imagine what summer in Saratoga would be without these companies’ annual visit.
A dance performance at SPAC is very different, in many wonderful ways. The curtain rises while the birds are chirping and the daylight has begun to fade. The first intermission comes and now it’s twilight. By the third intermission you are enveloped in the warm (and sometimes sticky), Saratoga night. The birds are quiet now but the occasional bat will make an appearance.
My first visit to SPAC was on a field trip with a dance camp I attended in the late 70’s. I can’t remember what I saw that first time but I fell in love with the place. While my first love is dance, I’ve also attended many classical, rock, and jazz performances at SPAC. Those have all been fun but it’s the NYCB performances that I look forward to.
While I can’t make it to every performance, I go to as many as I can squeeze in. One of the benefits of my SPAC membership is the chance to attend public rehearsals that the company has. Usually these are not full dress nor do the dances run through the pieces from start to finish. They can look a little rough at times and the dancers mark some of the combinations. Still it’s interesting to see Peter Martins give instruction and see how they block the pieces. For me, it’s always a treat to see a piece in rehearsal and then see the performance later that day or the next. It’s almost like magic to see the transformation that takes place.
If you are interested in learning more about this unique and beautiful place, make sure to watch a new documentary created by WMHT Educational Telecommunications (WMHT), SPAC at 50. There will be a special screening at the Bow Tie Criterion Cinema in Saratoga Springs, NY on June 1, 2016 at 7:00pm. You’ll need to make a reservation to catch this sneak preview. The broadcast premiere on WMHT will be June 2, at 7:30pm.
You might even catch a glimpse of me taking a class with Andrew Scordato, NYCB dancer. Andrew was interviewed by WMHT and then his master class was recorded as well for the documentary. Who knows if the class will be part of the documentary? There’s a lot of history to cover in 60 minutes.