Dance Matters: NYCB Summer in Saratoga Is Cut
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).
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.