Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), was honored at Northeast Ballet Company’s annual Nutcracker Gala at Proctors Theatre Friday, November 30. The invitation-only gala came just a day before the Ballet’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet The Nutcracker Saturday (also at Proctors). The gala was held on the main stage amidst the setting of Act 1 of the ballet, giving gala patrons a rare glimpse into what the performance looks like from the dancers’ perspective.
Northeast Ballet has been the resident ballet company of Proctors since 1990 and comprises the Myers Ballet School, which features classes in classical ballet, pointe, jazz, modern and more. Each year the company hosts a gala that honors an influential member from the Capital Region community, and this year the honoree was the President and artistic mastermind behind SPAC, Elizabeth Sobol. “Sobol is a very rare bird, I feel, and I’ve been in this business a long time,” says Darlene Myers, founder and Artistic Director of the Northeast Ballet. “She’s a unique mix of a very talented artist, a visionary, a businesswoman, an individual, an entrepreneur and someone who can really see the big picture and also see different paths within the picture, and that’s very rare to have all of those things in one person.”
The Northeast Ballet Company and SPAC have enjoyed a unique history and synergy in collaborating on educational programs and special fundraising events over the years. These include the Festival of Young Artists, which kicks off SPAC’s summer season, and SPAC’s annual Nutcracker Tea, which the Northeast Ballet has performed at for nearly two decades now (it gave another sold-out performance this year). “I feel privileged to be honored at Northeast Ballet Company’s Gala as we all celebrate ballet, the arts and the achievements of young artists in the region,” says Sobol. “From current Northeast Ballet students who perform at our signature events, to alumni such as New York City Ballet’s Lauren Lovette who perform on our stage, we are privileged to have this immense talent and resource in our backyard.”
Northeast Ballet Alumnus Lauren Lovette was actually present at the Nutcracker Gala, as was Taylor Stanley, both as guest artists from the NYC Ballet. “Every Gala and every Nutcracker I do, I hire NYC Ballet dancers,” says Myers, who danced professionally with the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia for years. And even though it’s a gala, Myers says, the environment is still very fun and informal. “It’s like a Victorian party, only in 2018,” she laughs. And the guest of honor was Elizabeth Sobol.