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What you need to know for 10/21/2017

Ballet’s stay at SPAC could gain a week

Ballet’s stay at SPAC could gain a week

Saratoga Performing Arts Center officials are still talking with the New York City Ballet about rest
Ballet’s stay at SPAC could gain a week
Marcia White, president and executive director of Saratoga Performing Arts Center, gives the "Presidents Report" during the annual meeting of voting members of SPAC held on Wednesday morning at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Saratoga Performing Arts Center officials are still talking with the New York City Ballet about restoring the second week of the ballet’s residency next year, but no decision has been made.

SPAC officials said Wednesday that until the ballet company resolves ongoing talks with its labor union, the cost of hosting a second week is unknown.

“The bad news is that in one very important respect, [the ballet] is in no different position this spring than it was last summer,” said Susan Phillips Read, chairwoman of the SPAC board of directors. However, SPAC officials are encouraged by an NYCB effort to eliminate its deficit within five years.

“I remain convinced that the city ballet, at the very highest levels, shares in SPAC’s goal to restore the second week,” Phillips Read said at SPAC’s annual membership meeting Wednesday morning at the Hall of Springs, which about 100 people attended.

But as the NYCB’s labor union talks continue, SPAC officials worry that a long delay would negatively affect their season next year if the NYCB’s asking price for the second week is too high and the arts center turns to other options.

“We have to worry that other companies will become committed elsewhere and not be available to us,” Phillips Read said.

This summer, after the NYCB’s one-week season from July 9 to 13, three other ballet companies will take the stage: the National Ballet of Canada July 16 through 18; Aspen Santa Fe Ballet on July 24 and 25; and Momix Botanica on Aug. 1.

SPAC cut the ballet’s residency this year from two weeks to one because of a cost increase that SPAC said it couldn’t afford.

The ballet company has had a summer residency at SPAC since 1966. It once had a four-week residency, which was reduced to three weeks several years ago and then whittled down to two weeks in 2009.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, SPAC announced it will dedicate a star on its Walk of Fame this summer to Peter Martins, who is celebrating his 30th year as ballet master in chief at the NYCB.

“It will be an honor to add him to our Walk of Fame,” said Marcia White, SPAC president and executive director.

A former ballet star, Martins was named co-ballet master in chief of the prestigious dance company in 1983 after co-founder George Balanchine died. Martins shared the role with Jerome Robbins until 1989.

Under Martins’ artistic direction, the company maintains more than 150 works in its repertory, most of them choreographed by Balanchine, Robbins and Martins. Martins also is the founder of the NYCB’s school, the School of American Ballet, and co-founder and artistic director of the New York Choreographic Institute.

The dedication will happen sometime during the ballet residency.

The arts center previously announced that it would add stars on the Walk of Fame this summer for the late jazz icon Dave Brubeck, who performed at SPAC a record 13 times, and the late Newman E. “Pete” Wait and his widow, Jane Wait, two of SPAC’s founders.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, SPAC elected three new board members and re-elected six directors.

The new board members, elected to three-year terms, are:

• Beth Alexander, co-owner of Hattie’s Restaurant and founder of Hattie’s annual Mardi Gras Gala, which has raised more than $350,000 for area nonprofits over the past 12 years, including $75,000 this year for the NYCB residenc.

• Susan Law Dake, board member of St. Peter’s Health Partners and the Phyllis Dale Foundation and president of the Stewart’s Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations throughout the Northeast. With her husband, former SPAC Chairman William Dake, she is a major SPAC benefactor.

• Gerry Golub, president of SPAC’s Action Council, the organization’s largest volunteer fundraising arm. At SPAC, the Action Council has increased net fundraising income by 50 percent under her leadership.

Five board members were re-elected to three-year terms: E. Stewart Jones Jr., Ed Mitzen, Nancy Touhey, Donald J. McCormack and Linda G. Toohey. Meyer Frucher was re-elected to a one-year term.

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