Back to SPAC: NYC Ballet Coming This Summer… In Small Batches!

“NYCB On and Off Stage” in 2021; Full Company to Return in 2022

Teresa Reichlen as Polyhymnia in Apollo. New York City Ballet Photo: Paul Kolnik

SARATOGA SPRINGS  – In a joint decision by Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and New York City Ballet (NYCB), SPAC announces that due to the ongoing health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines mandated by the State of New York, NYCB will not return to its summer home in Saratoga Springs with the full company this July. Instead a small group of NYCB dancers and musicians will present NYCB On and Off Stage, an intimate, up-close look at selected excerpts from the Company’s extraordinary repertory of ballets. This series of educational programs has never before been presented for Saratoga audiences. NYCB On and Off Stage is slated for six shows from July 14-17, 2021, and will feature two special presentations. All shows will be hosted by a NYCB Principal Dancer who will introduce the excerpts and provide insights on each ballet.   

SPAC and New York City Ballet have also confirmed that the traditional residency engagement with the full company will be presented in 2022 from July 12-16.  

On the Cover: NYCB Dancers performing Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

The NYCB On and Off Stage presentations will be offered in compliance with the current guidelines from the Governor to ensure the health and safety of artists, audience members and staff. As required by New York State, all attendees of the series will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of the event.  

“Bringing this group of incomparable artists from New York City Ballet back to SPAC for this intimate presentation marks an emotional and historic moment for us and our community. Not only are we thrilled to once again see live dance on our stage, but we also have the opportunity to experience highlights from the company’s repertory in a completely fresh and new way for the first time in our 55-years together,” says Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “Our devoted ballet fans and newcomers alike, will delight in seeing excerpts from Balanchine’s most iconic works and some of the company’s beloved story ballets, alongside unique commentary directly from the NYCB Principal Dancers.”

Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Harrison Coll, and Roman Mejia of New York City Ballet in Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

NYCB On and Off Stage will showcase two distinct programs suitable for audiences of all ages including an “All Balanchine” presentation, illuminating the expansive repertory of Founding Choreographer George Balanchine with excerpts from masterworks including ApolloThe Four TemperamentsAgon,Jewels, and Who Cares?, and a program entitled “Short Stories,” exploring beloved narrative ballets like Firebird, A Midsummer Night’s DreamSleeping BeautySwan Lake, Western Symphony, Fancy Free, and The Concert. Both programs will feature an ensemble of fifteen New York City Ballet dancers in costume performing excerpts from the Company’s world-renowned repertory, with live musical accompaniment provided by pianists from NYCB. This new format represents an innovative and safe way to bring dance to the community, while adhering to carefully mapped out, socially-distanced seating and rigorous COVID protocols both in SPAC’s public spaces and backstage. Each program will be hosted by a beloved NYCB Principal Dancer who will be retiring from the company during the 2021-22 New York Season – Maria Kowroski will host the Short Stories presentation; and Gonzalo Garcia will host the All Balanchine presentation 

New York City Ballet dancers Daniel Ulbricht, Rachel Hutsell, Megan Fairchild and Maria Kowroski discussing Jewels. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

While we will miss the big, lush productions for which City Ballet is renowned, the safety of the artists, audience members and staff is our greatest priority. When thinking about SPAC and re-opening, in addition to considering the audience members in our public spaces, we also have to make certain that the backstage, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and stage are all safe. This would not be possible with the complete NYCB organization of nearly 100 dancers, 62 orchestra members in the pit and the many production crew members and staff members backstage, as is necessary for a full-scale NYCB engagement. Bringing this new format to SPAC for 2021 ensures that we will be able to effectively create a safe environment for all,” added Sobol. “We are grateful to the company for their collaboration and work with us to ensure that City Ballet could have a presence in Saratoga this summer.”   

“I’ve been coming to Saratoga Springs with New York City Ballet for more than 20 years and our annual residency at SPAC has always been one of the highlights of our year thanks to the warm and enthusiastic audiences in the capital region,” said NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford. “While it is very disappointing not to be able to bring the entire Company to SPAC this season, I am thrilled that we are able to offer these unique presentations, which will provide Saratoga audiences with an intimate, inside look at some of NYCB’s wonderful artists and repertory.”

The full schedule is as follows:  

WEDNESDAY, JULY 14 @ 7:30 PM – Short Stories 

THURSDAY, JULY 15 @ 2 PM – All Balanchine 

THURSDAY, JULY 15 @ 7:30 PM – Short Stores          

FRIDAY, JULY 16 @ 7:30 PM – All Balanchine 

SATURDAY, JULY 17 @ 2 PM – Short Stories 

SATURDAY, JULY 17 @ 7:30 PM – All Balanchine

The presentations will all be approximately 75 minutes long with no intermission. All programs and casting are subject to change. 

Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle of New York City Ballet in George Balanchine’s Agon. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Ticketing information:   

SPAC Members will have early ticket access depending on membership level, beginning on May 3. Tickets for the public will be available to purchase on May 10. Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater, while designed pods of two and four will be available on the SPAC lawn. Amphitheater tickets start at $80 per pod, which seats up to two people. Lawn tickets are available to purchase for $60 for a two-person pod, or $120 for a four-person pod. Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $40 for the amphitheater and $30 for the lawn. Advance ticket purchases are strongly advised as ticket availability will be limited. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.  

COVID-19 Safety & Protocols: 

SPAC will be adhering to all mandated NYS guidelines and therefore all attendees are required to show proof of a completed vaccination no sooner than 14 days prior to the event or a negative 72-hour COVID-19 test. In addition, attendees are required to complete a health screening questionnaire and pass a mandatory temperature check prior to entry. Guests are required to wear a face mask at all times, regardless of proof of vaccination or negative test. Guests are permitted to bring factory sealed water bottles and essential personal items only. Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines. 

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