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Theater & Dance
What you need to know for 08/21/2017

SPAC sojourn: New choreography to highlight City Ballet residency

SPAC sojourn: New choreography to highlight City Ballet residency

The New York City Ballet returns to Saratoga Performing Arts Center for five days in July, showcasin
SPAC sojourn: New choreography to highlight City Ballet residency
"Acheron," by Francis Poulenc and Liam Scarlett, will be part of the New York City Ballet Gala, a "Tribute to Great Britain," on July 12. (Paul Kolnik photo)

The New York City Ballet returns to Saratoga Performing Arts Center for five days in July, showcasing 14 ballets, including the newest collaboration between choreographer Justin Peck and singer and composer Sufjan Stevens.

The ballet company will be at SPAC Tuesday, July 8, through Saturday, July 12, with performances each evening and matinees on Thursday and Saturday.

This is the second year that New York City Ballet’s residency at SPAC — once four weeks long — has been truncated to one week. The company has been a July fixture at SPAC since 1966.

The program will include classic works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as contemporary ballets by choreographers including Peter Martins, Mauro Bigonzetti, Justin Peck, Angelin Preljocaj, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon.

New visions

Some of the contemporary works were part of New York City Ballet’s Festival of 21st Century Choreographers, a celebration of established voices and emerging talents.

Making its SPAC debut will be “Todo Buenos Aires” by Peter Martins, the company’s ballet master in chief. The work, which premiered in 2000 and was expanded in 2005, is set to an arrangement of Piazzolla tangos for chamber orchestra and explores different interpretations of the tango.

Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti’s work “Vespro” returns to SPAC for the first time since its 2002 debut. Set to music by Bruno Moretti, piece features 13 dancers in geometric costumes who navigate around two on-stage musicians and a singer.

“Vespro” and “La Stravaganza,” by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, are both Diamond Project works. The project, with support from the Irene Diamond Fund, has presented works by new choreographers since 1992.

“La Stravaganza” premiered in 1997 and juxtaposes 17th-century sensibility with modern culture using contrasting classical and electronic accompaniment.

Returning to SPAC after its Gala premiere last season is Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux “This Bitter Earth,” set to Max Richter’s remake of Dinah Washington’s 1960 song of the same name.

Peck-Stevens work

A highlight of the season will be the Saratoga premiere of a new collaboration from choreographer and NYCB soloist Justin Peck and American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. The project is the second for Peck and Stevens, after their 2012 piece “Year of the Rabbit.”

Stevens’ score was commissioned for the work, which features costumes by Janie Taylor, who retired as an NYCB principal on March 1.

At just 26 years old, Peck has received an unprecedented six commissions from NYCB in less than two years. His newest work, as yet untitled, will premiere at the company’s 2014 Spring Gala in New York on May 8. It will be performed at SPAC three times: July 9, 10 and 12.

“New York City Ballet’s unparalleled commitment to new choreography will take center stage at SPAC this summer as the company presents a gorgeous program that intertwines classics by Balanchine and Robbins with modern day masterworks by a range of contemporary choreographers, both emerging and established,” Marcia J. White, SPAC’s president and executive director, said in a press statement.

NYCB tickets are $24 for the lawn, and $85-$32 for inside seating. The Kids in Free program entitles children 12 and under to free lawn admission with a paying adult; students of any age get a 25 percent discount.

Tickets to NYCB and SPAC’s classical season are on sale online at for members and go on sale March 18 for the general public. Box Office and phone sales begin on May 15.

Ballet schedule

Tues., July 8, 8 p.m.: Balanchine’s Journey. “Raymonda Variations” (Glazounov/ Balanchine); “Steadfast Tin Soldier” (Bizet/ Balanchine); “Walpurgisnacht Ballet” (Gounod/ Balanchine); “Who Cares?” (Gershwin/ Kay/ Balanchine)

Wed., July 9, 8 p.m.: All American. “Who Cares?” (Gershwin/ Kay/ Balanchine); New Stevens/ Peck; “Glass Pieces” (Glass/ Robbins)

Thurs., July 10, 2 p.m.: Mixed Repertoire. “Circus Polka” (Stravinsky/ Robbins); “Walpurgisnacht Ballet” (Gounod/ Balanchine); New Stevens/ Peck; “Who Cares?” (Gershwin/ Kay/ Balanchine)

Thurs., July 10, 8 p.m.: Contemporary Chamber Works. “Vespro” (Moretti/ Bigonzetti); “This Bitter Earth” (Washington & Richter/ Wheeldon); “Todo Buenos Aires” (Piazzolla/ Wasserman/ Martins); “La Stravaganza” (Vivaldi, Ficarra, Normandeau, Morand, Parmerud/ Preljocaj)

Fri., July 11, 8 p.m.: Mixed Repertoire. “Raymonda Variations” (Glazounov/ Balanchine); “La Stravaganza” (Vivaldi, Ficarra, Normandeau, Morand,Parmerud/ Preljocaj); “Glass Pieces” (Glass/ Robbins)

Sat., July 12, 2 p.m.: Mixed Repertoire. “Steadfast Tin Soldier” (Bizet/ Balanchine); “Walpurgisnacht Ballet” (Gounod/ Balanchine); “Circus Polka” (Stravinsky/ Robbins); “This Bitter Earth” (Washington & Richter/ Wheeldon); “Todo Buenos Aires” (Piazzolla/ Wasserman/ Martins); New Stevens/ Peck

Sat., July 12, 8 p.m.: The Ballet Gala: Tribute to Great Britain. “Acheron” (New Poulenc/ Scarlett); “After the Rain” (Pärt/ Wheeldon); “Union Jack” (British sources/ Kay/ Balanchine)

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