Saratoga Springs

New York City Ballet returning to SPAC on smaller scale

New York City Ballet dancers in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. (Rosalie O'Connor photo)

New York City Ballet dancers in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. (Rosalie O'Connor photo)

While the full New York City Ballet company will not be returning to Saratoga Performing Arts Center this summer, it will have a presence in the form of six On and Off Stage presentations.

SPAC and NYCB announced Monday in a joint decision that due to the ongoing health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines mandated by the state, the full company will not return until July 12-16, 2022.

Instead, a small group of NYCB dancers and musicians will present an intimate, up-close look at selected excerpts from the company’s repertory of ballets. NYCB On and Off Stage is slated for six shows from July 14-17 and will come in two forms — “All Balanchine” and “Short Stories.” All shows will be hosted by a NYCB principal dancer who will introduce the excerpts and provide insights on each ballet.

The “All Balanchine” presentations will showcase the repertory of founding choreographer George Balanchine with excerpts from masterworks including Apollo, The Four Temperaments, Agon, Jewels and Who Cares?

A second program titled “Short Stories” will explore narrative ballets such as Firebird, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Western Symphony, Fancy Free and The Concert.

Both programs will feature an ensemble of 15 New York City Ballet dancers in costume, with live musical accompaniment provided by pianists from NYCB.

Maria Kowroski will host the “Short Stories” presentations; Gonzalo Garcia will host the “All Balanchine” presentations.

“Bringing this group of incomparable artists from New York City Ballet back to SPAC for this intimate presentation marks an emotional and historic moment for us and our community,” said Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC president and CEO. “Not only are we thrilled to once again see live dance on our stage, but we also have the opportunity to experience highlights from the company’s repertory in a completely fresh and new way for the first time in our 55 years together.

“Our devoted ballet fans and newcomers alike will delight in seeing excerpts from Balanchine’s most iconic works and some of the company’s beloved story ballets, alongside unique commentary directly from the NYCB principal dancers.”

The NYCB On and Off Stage presentations will be offered in compliance with the current guidelines from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ensure the health and safety of artists, audience members and staff, SPAC said in its announcement. As required by the state, all attendees of the series will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of the event.

“I’ve been coming to Saratoga Springs with New York City Ballet for more than 20 years and our annual residency at SPAC has always been one of the highlights of our year thanks to the warm and enthusiastic audiences in the Capital Region,” said NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford. “It is very disappointing not to be able to bring the entire company to SPAC this season, [but] I am thrilled that we are able to offer these unique presentations.”

“While we will miss the big, lush productions for which City Ballet is renowned, the safety of the artists, audience members and staff is our greatest priority,” said Sobol.

“When thinking about SPAC and re-opening, in addition to considering the audience members in our public spaces, we also have to make certain that the backstage, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and stage are all safe. This would not be possible with the complete NYCB organization of nearly 100 dancers, 62 orchestra members in the pit and the many production crew members and staff members backstage, as is necessary for a full-scale NYCB engagement,” Sobol said.

“Bringing this new format to SPAC for 2021 ensures that we will be able to effectively create a safe environment for all. We are grateful to the company for their collaboration and work with us to ensure that City Ballet could have a presence in Saratoga this summer.”

The presentations will all be approximately 75 minutes long with no intermission. Dance performances will be about 40 minutes with discussion/insights covering about 35 minutes. The cast members who will appear at SPAC will be announced at a later date.

SPAC members will have early ticket access depending on membership level, beginning on May 3. Tickets for the public will be available to purchase beginning at 10 a.m. on May 10 at spac.org.

Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater, while designed pods of two and four will be available on the SPAC lawn.

Amphitheater tickets start at $80 per pod, which seats up to two people. Lawn tickets are available to purchase for $60 for a two-person pod, or $120 for a four-person pod.

Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $40 for the amphitheater and $30 for the lawn. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.

All attendees will be required to show proof of a completed vaccination no sooner than 14 days prior to the event or a negative 72-hour COVID-19 test. In addition, attendees will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire and pass a mandatory temperature check prior to entry. Guests are required to wear a face mask at all times, regardless of proof of vaccination or negative test.

Guests will be permitted to bring factory-sealed water bottles and essential personal items only. Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines.

For more information, visit spac.org.

The On and Off Stage schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, July 14, 7:30 p.m. — Short Stories

Thursday, July 15, 2 p.m. — All Balanchine

Thursday, July 15, 7:30 p.m. — Short Stores

Friday, July 16, 7:30 p.m. — All Balanchine

Saturday, July 17, 2 p.m. — Short Stories

Saturday, July 17, 7:30 p.m. — All Balanchine

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