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Saratoga Season

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Another 3 week residency of NYCB at SPAC has come and gone. The time flies by so quickly--we only wish that February would pass the same way, but alas it doesn't. :P

I had the chance to meet up again with some BA pals, and meet a few new ones--always a pleasure.

There was not a single sold-out performance. A few matinees came close and some evening shows did well too, but I remember many fully sold outs in the distant past. In fact, the first time my husband and I came to Saratoga as newlyweds, to look for an apartment, we couldn't get tickets to a Saturday matinee. The Baryshnikov years had fantastic attendance.

But I don't worry about it anymore. In past seasons I lost sleep, worrying that NYCB and SPAC would end their relationship because of plummeting numbers. I have decided, though, that since I have no control over this issue, I won't waste time being concerned about it. Since SPAC is almost exactly twice the size of the NYS Theater, if we are half full, that is a sell-out at home. Why should we in the Capital District, with a fraction of the population and a fraction of the financial resources, be expected to do better than the metro NYC area?

SPAC has hundreds of partial vision seats--in some the angle is so bad that you miss 50% of what is on the stage. I don't blame anyone for not wanting to sit there.

There is always talk that SPAC will become a venue for rock concerts only. This has become more of a concern since Clear Channel Entertainment took over the "special events" at SPAC several years ago (along with most of the rest of the "popular" entertainment industry :angry: ). Even Neil Young was pitching for CCE-- sad indeed, from a venerable old rocker like him. But CCE is giving most of the big shows--The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Cher, Billy Joel/Elton John--to the Pepsi Arena in Albany, which is also under their control--and SPAC gets the umpeenth tour of Crosby Stills and Nash--not that I don't love them, I do--but please! They don't have the draw anymore of the major tours. The rock shows can bring in huge bucks--plenty to subsidize our NYCB and Phil Orch--so I say, bring 'em on! We'll have two nights of Dave Matthews Band, and at the end the place will be a pigsty and will reek of vomit. (sorry, so graphic). It's a small price to pay for the money that will be generated, money that will help keep Balanchine and Ormandy as a presence in the theater that was built for them. Sad, but true.

I've talked more about SPAC than NYCB. If you're still with me, I'd love to offer a few closing thoughts on the latter:

Ashley Bouder, in her only SPAC appearance (unless she was buried somewhere in the corps and I didn't find her), was a knockout in 2nd mvt Western on closing night, filling in for Ansanelli. This girl is strong! If she can only stay healthy, what a wonderful future she can have. Her legs are like iron, never a sign of a bent knee from her, and yet she has a beautifully soft upper body quality.

Aesha Ash, in her final SPAC and NYCB appearance--absolutely tore up the stage in 3rd mvt Western. She held back nothing. The arabesque releves were sky high, the smile on her face told the whole story. She is on her way to Switzerland and Bejart, and it is NYCB's great loss. Here was an opportunity to make a bit of history--to name the first African-American female soloist (principal!!!, imo) in NYCB--and they blew it bigtime. Very upset about this.

What in the name of heaven was Megan Fairchild doing on the stage last night in the corps of Western? I also thought I saw her in Chaconne corps on Friday night--uncredited in the program--Friday being her off day, between Coppelias. Way to go! Even if she wanted to dance, she should not have been permitted to do so. She managed to get through all 4 Coppelias beautifully, how about a break for her? The Russian tour starts soon enough.

Jennie Somogyi and Nilas Martins--put them together whenever possible. Jennie brings out the very best in Nilas, and that is far better than I ever thought. Size-wise they are a great match, but aside from that, she seems to inspire him to greater heights, literally! REALLY happy to see the smile on his face!

Shaun O'Brien. I did take the night off from my SPAC job to hear his talk. I've heard him speak about NYCB before--we are so fortunate that he lives here in Saratoga--but every time is a revelation, and a hoot. No notes, no moderator asking him questions--just Shaun speaking about his experiences. He was very careful in his assessment of current events at NYCB, but what a pity that he (and all the others) are not called upon to coach their roles. There is so much that he could impart, if other egos were not in the way. Adam Hendrickson played Coppelius far too young--well he is far too young for the role, imo, and he didn't stay in character consistently--but we have THE Coppelius right here. He could have been so helpful. What a waste!

Carnival of the Animals. Poorly marketed here in Saratoga--there should have been a huge feature article in the Saratogian and interviews with the local TV stations in Albany--and yet the audience size was respectable. Note to SPAC: Put some money into advertising! That could have been a sell-out. Personally, I liked it. Arch Higgins is a wonderful baboon--aside from that, he had one appearance as Lysander or Demetrius, can't keep them straight--and that was it. Come on, the guy is a soloist and tall, and he does a nice job--give him some work! I loved seeing Chris Redpath on the stage again, what a treat for us, and what a lovely bittersweet little dance...and in the finale, what a beautiful developpe a la seconde--Chris, you've still got it! The two tortoises, delightful. And for John Lithgow--there are no words to adequately describe the hilarity of his elephant and the wittiness of his libretto. So it isn't classical ballet--it brings an audience, even without good advertising it did very well. The audience sees Chaconne, Barocco, Symphony in 3 Mvts, Western, and maybe someone sees something else that (s)he likes. There is a new audience member! Chris Wheeldon has taken the over-played, sometimes boring (no, it isn't my favorite music :D ) and brought it to life.

The GALA. Take out Liturgy and program it on several nights when the afficiandos will see it and appreciate it. Put in Carnival of the Animals. (take out Glass too, so the program won't be too long). Then you have a perfect gala evening--a curtain raiser (Walpurgnishnacht), Thou Swell and Carnival.

We already have dates for next year's SPAC season. 49 weeks to go!!!!

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It was a pleasure to read this report -- thanks, rkoretzky! One of the things I miss from the days when NYCB attendance at SPAC was so good, is the welcoming banner (I don't mean Mae) that used to be stretched over Braodway during the residency. About the only display of NYCB-consciousness I noticed in town this year was the wonderful window display at the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore.

I'm already looking forward to next year, too.

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Ashley Bouder was one of the tropical birds in "Carnival of the Animals", so she danced on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

I didn't see Fairchild in the "Chaconne" corps-perhaps you mixed her up with one of the apprentices or new corps members. There aren't any pictures of the apprentices/recent corps members anywhere, and I often get them confused.


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Duh! I knew that about Carnival--brain cramp, senior moment, whatever. In any case, it wasn't enough Ashley, not even close.

As for Chaconne--I had a fleeting thought: "is that Megan?" on a brief glimpse, so I am sure you are correct.


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