The course of true love never did run smooth—unless it included dinner. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will host a fundraiser, entitled “A Midsummer Night’s Supper,” which was inspired by George Balanchine’s ballet A Midsummer Night’s Dream and ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq’s The Ballet Cook Book. The event will feature a multi-course gourmet dinner; herb-infused spirits by Albany Distilling Company; and appearances by New York City Ballet (NYCB) dancers Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Maria Kowroski, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen and legendary retired NYCB dancer Edward Villella. Between courses, Meryl Rosofsky, creator of the Breaking Bread with Balanchine project; Paul Kolnik, renowned NYCB photographer and Saratoga devotee; and Jeanne Fuchs, author and longtime friend of Tanaquil Le Clercq, who worked with her on The Ballet Cook Book, will share stories about food, ballet and Saratoga.
Conceived by Rosofsky as an homage to Balanchine’s love of cooking and the NYCB’s storied history at SPAC, which began 55 years ago with a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the fundraiser is set for Monday, July 12 and Tuesday, July 13 at 7pm in SPAC’s new, outdoor Julie Bonacio Family Pavilion. The suppers will serve as the kickoff to the NYCB’s appearance at SPAC, scheduled to begin on Wednesday, July 14 and lasting through Saturday, July 17.
“We all know that George Balanchine was a choreographic genius,” says Rosofsky, who serves as vice chair of the George Balanchine Foundation, “but what many ballet lovers don’t know is that he was also a gifted cook. During summers in Saratoga, he’d even make his own ice cream and jams. His muse and wife, Tanaquil Le Clercq, wrote the wonderful The Ballet Cook Book, thanks to which we have personal stories and recipes from many of the great dancers of her day, including longtime Saratoga denizen Melissa Hayden (whose son happens to be my husband!) and the beloved, recently departed Jacques d’Amboise, who made a mean Sauce Béarnaise.”
The evening’s menu will feature recipes by Balanchine, Le Clercq and dance luminaries who originated roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, including d’Amboise, Hayden, Patricia McBride, Arthur Mitchell and Violette Verdy. The multi-course dinner will be prepared by Chef Kim Klopstock of The Lily and the Rose and will be accompanied by superb wines and inventive cocktails like “Puck’s Potion” and “Bottom’s Up” created for the occasion.
“Balanchine is deeply embedded in SPAC’s DNA for his role in building our amphitheater stage and cofounding our beloved New York City Ballet,” says Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of SPAC. “This event gives us a unique opportunity to honor many incredible artists and to celebrate the intersection of dance and culinary arts. What a great way for us to come together and celebrate as our world opens up, and we can once again welcome our audience back for live performances and unique events like this. We are so fortunate to have been guided by the vision of Meryl Rosofsky and to be collaborating once again with Kim Klopstock, Pam Abrams and the SPAC Action Council.”
A Midsummer Night’s Supper is part of the arts organization’s [email protected] initiative, which launched in the fall of 2020 and has since featured everything from educational classes to workshops and gourmet experiences to support local chefs, farmers and the regional culinary community.
Tickets cost $350 or $250 for a Junior Ticket (35 years old and under) and will be available for purchase on Monday, June 28. Tables are available in reservations of six ($5,000); eight ($7,500) or 10 ($10,000). Guests who purchase a table of 10 will have the opportunity to dine with a dancer from the NYCB (Villella will participate in the July 13 event only). For more details and to purchase tickets, click here; or contact Heather Varney at [email protected]