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By Steve Sucato
Robert Fairchild of NYCB in Justin Peck’s In Creases, the choreographer’s first NYCB commission, which premiered at SPAC last summer. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy SPAC.
There is a sense of reverence and nostalgia when people speak of New York City Ballet’s nearly half-century summer residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Former NYCB stars Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who both performed there in the 1970s, remember Saratoga as “a wonderful experience. We were really a part of the community there,” says Bonnefoux. “We would premiere new ballets that Balanchine would choreograph there.”
Current NYCB star Daniel Ulbricht echoed Bonnefoux’s sentiments, saying that at SPAC he grew as a dancer and that the residency fostered bonding among company members.
But fiscal realities care little about reverence and nostalgia. So when SPAC announced that NYCB’s residency, which began at four weeks in 1966, would be reduced from the two weeks it had been since 2009 to five days (July 9–13) because of financial considerations, there was a public outcry.
“Our joint [SPAC and NYCB] decision to present one week of the New York City Ballet in 2013 was a financially necessary choice, born not out of a desire to end the residency, but to preserve it,” says SPAC president and executive director Marcia White. “The New York City Ballet is our heritage.”
Last summer SPAC lost $1.1 million on the residency. Its costs have also taken their toll on NYCB, says the company’s executive director Katherine Brown. “Unfortunately, for many years, the engagement has involved a significant financial shortfall that New York City Ballet can no longer sustain.”
The hope, says White, is to restore the residency to two weeks in 2014. In NYCB’s stead this summer, SPAC will present National Ballet of Canada in a mixed program and in Giselle (July 16–18), Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in works by Elo, Kylián, Cerrudo, and others (July 24–25), and MOMIX in Botanica (Aug. 1).