Jumping into the SPAC season

New York City Ballet dancers frolic at Victoria Pool in one of eight videos shot in advance of July residency
New York City Ballet dancers are filmed at Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park on Friday.
New York City Ballet dancers are filmed at Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park on Friday.

Dancers have descended upon the Capital Region.  

From a smattering of spots throughout Spa State Park to Shelving Rock Falls, dancers from the New York City Ballet have been filming dance videos across the greater Capital Region over the last few days.

During last Friday’s surprisingly warm afternoon, a group of ten ballerinas gathered at the Victoria Pool to dance and to do what almost every group of school friends does on a warm day at the pool — jump in all together. 

They just happen to do so much more gracefully than the rest of us. Throughout the day, they also filmed a few frames of synchronized swimming and a backflip or two. 

It’s just one film in an eight-part series that the company will release on social media during the week leading up to its residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. 

Since 2017, co-creators Peter Walker and Emily Kikta, both dancers in the NYCB, have choreographed and filmed these videos across the region, including the Empire State Plaza in Albany, the Adelphi in Saratoga Springs and Proctors in Troy. This time around, the series is focused not so much on iconic places in the area, but on water.   

“I always talk about the park and SPAC being the perfect confluence of manmade beauty and natural beauty, so our programming has been shifting to looking at art through nature,” said Elizabeth Sobol, the president and CEO of SPAC. 

“We are launching this multi-year look at water through art, through nature, through science because water is such an important part of Saratoga’s history and water as a world issue. Water is probably the most important issue of our time, along with climate change,” Sobol added. 

Keeping this in mind, Walker and Kikta came up to scout locations back in March, when the Capital Region was still blanketed in a layer of snow and ice. 

“We come up early and location scout and take pictures so that when we make it we make it with these places in mind,” Walker said, “Very rarely do we show up and have to re-choreograph.”

While they were scouting, they also shot the first video of the series. Choreographed and performed by Kikta, it takes viewers through a winter dream sequence. 

“She dances in the winter and then wakes up in the spring, Walker said, “It’s her doing a solo in a white leotard in the snow.”

Over the weekend, they shot the second part of the film, luckily in warmer weather. In one, Lauren Lovette takes a stroll through the woods and is greeted by fellow dancers. In another, Anthony Huxley and Devin Alberda perform a duet on the pedestrian bridge at SPAC. 

“It’s to really peaceful piano music. Anthony does a solo and then Devin joins him,” Kikta said. 

The dancers filmed all around the Spa State Park as well as Saratoga Lake, popular weekend destinations in the Capital Region. On Monday, they headed up to Shelving Rock (east shore of Lake George across from Bolton Landing) to film a dance under the waterfall. Walker described it as a more architectural dance set to electronic music. 

“What I like about the videos is it shows that the dancers know and like the area. We’re not outsiders,” Kikta said. 

When people see them filming, they always ask what the dancers are doing, who they are, what it’s for, etc. The company’s presence sometimes confuses Capital Region residents, who are used to seeing the ballet here in July, but the videos are a way to show locals that the company considers SPAC and the area its summer home. 

“We’re here every year,” Walker said. 

For their last video, which the choreographers plan to film today, they’ll be at a farm, just east of Saratoga. The dance, choreographed by Lauren Lovette, will feature dancers playing hide and seek and dancing with abandon.

Once Walker and Kikta head back to NYC later this week, they’ll start the editing process. They plan to release the videos on social media the week leading up to the company’s residency at SPAC, which is from July 16–20. 

The dancers will begin their residency with programs from Tschaikovsky and Balanchine and will perform “Coppelia” later in the week. There will also be SPAC premieres of dances from 21st-century choreographers like Justin Peck in collaboration with Sufjan Stevens. The NYCB’s run at SPAC will conclude on July 20 with the Gala, “Apollo & The Muses: A Summer Celebration.” For more information visit spac.org. 

Speaker Series at SPAC

SPAC will kick off its water in nature programming at 8 p.m. tonight with composer Kenneth Frazelle.

As part of SPAC’s speaker series, Frazelle will present “In the Flow: Music and Water.” The composer will examine water through the lens of music and art, delving into how composers have transfigured images of water in their works over centuries. Frazelle will also play excerpts on the piano and offer insights into the inner flow of the compositional process.  

The event begins at 8 p.m. tonight on the amphitheater stage. Tickets are $20. For more info visit spac.org. 

 The series continues on Aug. 1 with Sandra Postel, the director of the Global Water Policy Project and author of “Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity.”

Categories: Entertainment

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