SPAC’s 2018 Ballet Gala To Celebrate The 100th Birthdays Of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) continues to bring good times to Saratoga Springs with its freshly revamped Ballet Gala: The Four Seasons on Saturday, July 21. The Ballet Gala will cap off the NYC Ballet’s 2018 season with a musical celebration of the centennial birthdays of two of American’s most prized artistic geniuses: composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and ballet master and choreographer Jerome Robbins. The NYC Ballet’s main performance, which begins at 8pm, includes four pieces written by or paying homage to the American artists. The evening will include two of Robbins’ most celebrated works, The Four Seasons, written to excerpts of music by Giuseppe Verdi, and Other Dances, set to four mazurkas and one waltz by Chopin, as well as a new 2018 ballet by Justin Peck (NYC Ballet’s Resident Choreographer) called Easy, inspired by the choreography of Robbins with a Bernstein musical score.

The centerpiece of the performance, however, is the SPAC premier of a new ballet directed by Tony Award-winning choreographer and director Warren Carlyle. Something to Dance About will pay tribute to the Broadway career of the NYC Ballet’s legendary co-founding choreographer, Robbins. The ballet had its World Premiere at the NYC Ballet’s 2018 Spring Gala on May 3. Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of SPAC, loves the new piece. “Complete with 30 dancers and 124 costume changes all in a breathtaking 30 minutes, the ballet is an imaginative nod to Robbins’ Broadway works and the ‘can’t miss’ performance of the season,” says Sobol.

A scene from ‘Easy,’ the ballet by NYC Ballet Resident Choreographer, Justin Peck. (Paul Kolnik)

As always, the Gala will also feature its preshow festivities, which start at 5:30pm. But this year’s lawn party has been transformed into an interactive, almost carnival-like experience. Throughout the lawn and ballroom sections of the audience, there will be various pop-up performances produced by the artistic director for Saratoga Arts Fest, Nicole Coady (we recently covered Coady’s new series on Amazon Prime, Adventures of Snow White & Rose Red). Elizabeth Sobol attended Coady’s show at the Arts Fest Gala called The All Hallows’ Eve Dark Faerie Tale Masquerade. “[She] enjoyed the way performances just popped up unexpected at different moments throughout our gala,” says Coady about the show. “So she invited me to bring a little bit of that fun, pop-up experience to the lawn party at the SPAC Ballet Gala.”

Also part of this new immersive experience will be avant-garde stilt walkers, walking amongst concertgoers and dressed in “Four Seasons”-themed costumes designed and crafted by Kim Vanyo. “I decided to dress each of the stilt walkers in a costume representative of the seasons with ornate wigs made from organic mosses, leaves, twigs, grasses and other woodland components scoured from the flower district in NYC,” says Vanyo, who, in addition to costume and clothing design, has studied classical ballet most her life. “As a nod to the ballet, each performer also will be outfitted with over-the-top tutus—five feet long!”

Last year’s NYC Ballet fireworks.

There will also be a slew of free dance and musical performances before the main show, courtesy of the School of the Arts, Saratoga City Ballet and Northeast Ballet Company, modern dance group Nacre Dance Company, soul singer Kim Lisinicchia and local favorites Chuck Lamb with Ria Curley, among others.

Tickets to the gala events are $250 or $165 for Junior Guests (up to age 35) and include a champagne cocktail party, gourmet food by Mazzone Hospitality, fantastic seating for the main performance and admission to an After Party with complimentary dessert. Cost to attend just the NYC Ballet performance ranges from $55 to $125. Visit spac.org for more details.

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