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Any recommendations about the Summer season at SPAC? Is it worth sitting on the lawn or is it better to get a seat in the shed? I've been to Tanglewood (Boston Sym Orch & Pops) often but never to SPAC.

Any comments about lodging and parking would be welcome too.


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I am lucky to live in Saratoga Springs, and if you hang around here for any length of time you will find that I am the Saratoga cheerleader. I'll be happy to tell you anything that I can. There are a number of BA posters who come up to Saratoga during NYCB, I've been fortunate to meet them, and I look forward to meeting you this summer too. And anyone else who plans to come, please do let me know!

I wouldn't sit on the lawn for the ballet. Unlike Tanglewood, the SPAC lawn does slope so you can see the stage. There are also huge screens where the image is projected, but if you're going to watch that, you might as well stay home and watch some videos, in my opinion. My main reason for not liking the lawn for the ballet is that I feel a disconnect from what is happening on the stage. It is just too far away. With that statement, I will tell you that there is an entire subculture of true fans who sit on the lawn for every ballet performance and they love it. So I wouldn't sit there, but lots of people do and they really enjoy it. For the orchestra in August, now that is another story. For certain programs, it can be great fun to bring a picnic and a lawn chair, open a bottle of wine and enjoy the music.

Unfortunately, the ballet rarely, if ever sells out, so there is no great urgency in getting tickets in advance. You can often get excellent seats as a walk-up. My favorite places to sit are in the front of sections 8, 9 and 10--the front row of those sections are boxes and premium priced, but very worth it. Avoid the partial vision sections, it really is partial.

Parking is free and very available for the classical performances. Dave Matthews, etc--another story. Lodging is expensive in the summer. Try to avoid the very end of the ballet season because the racetrack opens that week and then hotel prices skyrocket. I can make specific suggestions for places if you would like.

The bottom line is: COME! It's the greatest. I work at the theater, so I am at the ballet and the orchestra for just about every performance. It is truly a cornerstone of my universe, I have been doing this for almost 25 years and I could not imagine my life without this jewel. (I just counted, this will be my 25th year!).

We Saratogians are eagerly awaiting the announcement of our season in our local newspaper. It should be any day now. It is just what we need to get through this freezing, dreary, snowy winter.

Any other Saratoga questions or comments--bring 'em on!

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We love going to Saratoga to see NYCB. In fact, we now do that instead of going down to NYC to see them. I agree with advice to get indoor seats. In addition to the good reasons already cited, we have experienced torrential rains often enough to be glad to be under cover. The weather is unpredictable. Often it has been very hot, sometimes we have bundled up against the cold. Of course you can make a good guess of what to expect close to the time. And bring mosquito repellent, even if you are sitting inside.

When you go, do plan to spend some time at the National Dance Museum. It is sometimes possible to observe NYCB's summer classes held there as well as enjoying the exhibits.

We usually stay at the Holiday Inn. Not the place if you want charm, but it is a decent motel reasonably priced when it is not race week. Its location makes it very fast and easy to get to SPAC but it is also an easy walk to the pleasures of Saratoga shops and restaurants.

I'd avoid the gala performance unless you are one of the social crowd. During the performance we found the loud hum of conversations in and out of the theater very distracting, annoying and disrespectful of the dancers, who were doing a great job. (The fireworks afterwards were nice though.)

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I enjoy NYCB in the summer at Saratoga more than at the NY State Theater, where I see them once or twice a week in the winter and spring. The Saratoga audience is much more receptive and enthusiastic, and if they sometimes applaud inappropriately, I prefer that to sitting on one's hands and rushing out of the theater the moment the curtain starts coming down. It's true though, that the audience at the SPAC annual gala is often rude and couldn't care less about the ballet. Last year, a large part of it left its seats at the first intermission and loitered around the grounds for the rest of the evening. Nevertheless, the gala is a grand occasion, fascinating for watching people as well as fireworks. I skipped it for a couple of years, but found I missed it.

I've been going to Saratoga Springs since 1978, and never tire of the place, despite the increasingly noisy and daunting vehicular traffic on Broadway. I, too, stayed for years at the Holiday Inn, and agree that it's very pleasant and convenient. There's an ample parking area. Nowadays I stay at the Adelphi, the last remaining 19th century hotel in Saratoga. Travel & Leisure once described it as "a time capsule of Gilded Age decadence and Victorian clutter." The Adelphi bar is a favorite gathering place after performances. However, the Adelphi has no parking facilities. (The parking area at the Performing Arts Center is huge, like the theater itself.)

Among its many attractions for me, Saratoga Springs has what Lincoln Kirstein once called "the best bookstore in the United States." the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore. It's on Phila (pronounced Fy-la) Street, a few steps off Broadway, and it's possible to get lost, both literally and figuratively, in its warren of rooms full of antiquarian books and prints.

To top it off, last year I had the pleasure of meeting rkoretzky, yet another of Saratoga's incomparable attractions. :D

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(and grinning like a fool):D

The SPAC NYCB gala is a horror story for most of us who love the ballet, and most Saratoga fans avoid it like the plague. Every year the crowd seems younger and more intoxicated and obnoxious (of course every year I am otherwise--ahem--and older). But FF does make a valid point. It is lots of fun to people watch, but one has to accept the fact that there will be numerous distractions from the performance. Ironically, Sean Lavery and Peter Martins always tease us by programming something special for the gala that will only be danced that night. The majority of the audience has no idea that they are being treated to something extraordinary. I usually have to work that night and I do dread it, but at least I don't have to pay the ticket prices--double the usual.

Now I have a wonderful idea: SPAC is located in a state park with lovely picnic areas. I think we should have a BA picnic! I'll ask for that day off (from both my jobs--librarian at the public library and usher supervisor at SPAC) and coordinate the arrangements. All will be welcome. As soon as we have the SPAC schedule and those of you travelers start making your plans, we'll pick a date. Now....who is in?

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I hope I can make it for a week this year, and that will be my 4th. Saratoga and surrounding area are great fun. You might even like to go to the County Fair, ususally in the 3rd week in July.

I have stayed at the Gideon Putnam, from whence you can walk to the SPAC. but last year to the Hilton and enjoyed that very much.

A highlight last year was meeting and breakfasting with rkoretzky and Farrell Fan. Try to meet both when you come this year. Join the picnic!

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I'm always surprised when they schedule ballets that they don't consider the number of repeat performances people coming in for a week or a long weekend have to put up with.

I used to go to Saratogo, but in the past few years, I just couldn't face sitting through so many of the same ballets. One year I saw three Agons, which was fine. But three performances of the same Peter Martins ballet will hold me back every year.

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I have attended the NYCB performances at SPAC for the last 2 years and agree fully with the "inside" seating. The company seems more relaxed up there and that usually translates well on stage. I live close enough to go up for the day, so the repeat performances aren't as much of a problem for me. I look forward to returning this summer...and would love to meet up with some of you!

The Holiday Inn was fine, reasonable, and close to both SPAC and the Dance Museum. If you do stay there, be sure to make your way into town for at least an afternoon though....it is a wonderful place to window shop and sit for coffee/pastry.

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I doubt I will make it to Saratoga this summer, but do want to suggest that those of you who are doing so consider staying in a bed and breakfast. This has always been part of what makes Saratoga fun for us, because there are gorgeous, Victorian b&b's up there with congenial, interesting hosts and wonderful breakfasts, and they are reasonable. I have trouble remembering names, unfortunately, but I do remember that the Apple Tree Inn in Ballston Spa is lovely, and there are many others reputed to be good, such as Six Sisters and the Westchester House, right in Saratoga (easy to find via Google). I am sure rkoretzky may have some recommendations of her own.

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I'm also disappointed by the schedule, heavy on story ballets, light on rep. In general we prefer rep programs - though understand that story ballets draw bigger audiences from the general public. And especially like Balanchine and Robbins, so that's what we like to see NYCB do the most. Not interested in seeing multi performances of Dream or Swan Lake or Coppelia. Looks like July 11/12 would most suit our needs, but we won't be making any plans for quite a while.

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I agree with the previous posters that the schedule is very disappointing. SPAC members had a forewarning about this in the form of a letter a few months ago, announcing with great excitment the programming of all three story ballets. So frankly I was relieved to see that each will "only" be performed four times. It could have been worse. Of course that only leaves nine repertory performances. If we still had the four week season....oh well it's time to give up wishing for that. I'm grateful for the three weeks and I'm going to do my best to convince as many of you as possible to come up anyway and give Saratoga a try.

It is also unfortunate that all six matinees will be the stories, not giving many options to the large crowd that enjoy daytime performances. On the other hand....programming Midsummer in the midafternoon is ludicrous. All the magic of that lovely ballet is enhanced at SPAC at twilight, when the little bugs and fireflies come onto the stage, the magnificent music, the fact that you are IN a forest at evening. The very first NYCB evening at SPAC was Midsummer, in July 1966.

Coppelia has a special place in the hearts of Saratogians too, because it is our ballet. SPAC commissioned NYCB's production of Coppelia (that was in the days when there was a sense of artistic vision at SPAC, alas. More for another thread sometime) and the world premiere was on the SPAC stage in July, 1974.

As for Swan Lake, I am not going to say anything about it.

The story ballets are popular and they have the added benefit of involving some local kids and their families because some local students are cast in the children's roles. That brings mom and dad and aunt susie to the theater.

I do wish there was more rep and fewer story programs. But I think Midsummer at SPAC is incomparable and Coppelia is fun. Come see them once. Try to bracket the rep programs around a performance of a story ballet.

I do fully understand reluctance to come a long distance and incur lots of expense to see one story ballet three or four times. But there are lots of other fun things to do here. As we get toward the summer, I'll be happy to make some concrete suggestions.

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I agree with rkoretzy about the programming -- it could have been worse. Midsummer Night's Dream and Coppelia are wonderful ballets and look even better at SPAC. And it will be nice to have the place more filled than usual, as I'm sure it will be. I don't mind seeing either of those ballets more than once over the course of a few days. I draw the line at Peter Martins' Swan Lake, however, and, like rkoretzky, a veil of silence.

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So It looks like Race week is not the time to go! I was thinking of hitting both SPAC and the racetrack: Day at the races, Evening at the ballet. I live close enough to Saratoga to make it a very long day trip.

I asked about parking not for finding a spot, but for getting out after the performance. 3-4 thousand people trying to leave at the same time makes for traffic. I once spent two hours fighting to get out of the foxfield races in Charlottesville Virginia.

Looking forward to the warmer weather!


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I've been going to, or from, Saratoga since 1956. Hah!

I am glad they're doing Midsummer again -- there's really nothing to compare with seeing that ballet on a balmy (well, sometimes they're balmy) night at SPAC. Coppelia is also fun, and, well, Swan Lake, well, it's worth seeing if you haven't.

The town has certainly changed, and will continue to. There's tons to do even without ballet; one of these days I'm actually going to have a mineral bath. One of these days.

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Spending a summer day in Saratoga--afternoon at the races, evening at the ballet--is great fun and I recommend both highly. It would however, make for a VERY long day if you are planning to then drive back to Connecticut after the performance. The ballet at SPAC starts promptly at 8:20 PM, as Mr. Balanchine always held the curtain for 5 minutes, we do so at SPAC to this day, and it is rarely over before 10:30. As FF has said, the audience does not run out of the theater, but applauds for a long time, and the dancers take several curtain calls. It's nice!

I'd like to suggest that you consider looking into one of the motels in Clifton Park or Latham--just 20 minutes or so down the Northway, but a world away in terms of pricing. They have all the standards--Best Western, Hampton, Comfort Inn etc. Most of them are new and while not luxurious, they are comfortable and convenient.

There was a time when we would go to an evening performance in NY and then drive home to Saratoga, but we've stopped doing that. It just gets too late. (although the 7:30 curtain on Tuesdays does tempt me mightily).

Oh and about getting out of the parking lots after the ballet: it's not really a big problem. I'm there every night and rarely do I find myself stuck in any type of traffic jam. And I'm not the most patient driver either!

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I think we stayed in a Best Western during the beginning of race week, while visiting our daughter at NYSSSA and it was the only place we found with a fair and normal price. Clean, comfortable and a nice boring ambiance! ;)

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It's a fun experience, very different from a modern-day spa. The place I went, you're assigned an attendant who takes you into this catacomb like area, very dark and cool, with ancient-looking bathtubs equipped with spigots that let "the waters" in. I guess there's something of a mystique to the waters, but to me it just seemed like a nice bath, which I'm always up for anyway!

I've been to Saratoga Springs just once before and highly recommend it. Even if you only catch one or two ballets (which seems likely with this year's schedule), it's a beautiful area with a lot of other things to do. My other big passion is baseball (are there any other combo ballet/baseball crazies out there?!), so I was in hog heaven -- Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame are nearby, which is great fun. (And a great bargaining chip if you're in the company of the male sort that goes to the ballet with martyred reluctance, even if he eventually admits how much he enjoyed it!)

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One of my friends just tried booking rooms at the Holiday Inn for mid-July (7/10-12) and found them booked up, ditto the Inn at Saratoga across the street, so she got the last couple of rooms at the Hilton. Seems early for these hotels to be sold out since I think it is before race season starts. Is this typical or is there something else going on? (I'd like to think it is all the ballet fans converging to see NYCB, but somehow doubt that....)

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Oh would that it were so!

Saratoga has changed so much over the years. It is now a four season convention destination and not so easy to get a hotel room at any given time. There are some lovely bed and breakfast places, a Super-8 motel just out of town and the places that bbfan mentioned. Also a big hotel in town that was once a Ramada Renaissance, then a Sheraton, and is now called Prime (?). And the Gideon Putnam, right in the park, walking distance to SPAC: old style elegance, a bit run down at the heels. Both of those last quite expensive too.

If anyone wants more specific suggestions, please do feel free to send me a PM.

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