Weather delays rerouted me on my way to Saratoga Springs, and once I maneuvered through the tollroads of New Jersey, I found myself journeying along through the flourishing hillsides of upstate New York. An enchanting harbor for harried city dwellers escaping for the weekend. A peaceful community for suburban families waiting for their breadwinners to make the train commute home. Picturesque towns with American flags and community art fairs. Land of the Catskills, Woodstock, and summer sleep-away camps.
Amid the upstate areas where vacationers flock, Saratoga Springs is a popular pick. To some, it is the home of horse racing, where folks dress in finery and peer over papers as determined steeds propel past. To others, it is a performing arts destination, and its annual New York City Ballet season the most anticipated event of them all.
Dance Magic, Dance
Since the early ’60s, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been a beacon of culture, whether music, dance, or theatre. Dedicated by a Rockefeller, the center featured singer Harry Belafonte as one of the first few special events, and crowds set record numbers in the 1980’s thanks to a stop from the Grateful Dead. From the beginning, the New York City Ballet has made it their home away from home, a welcoming stage to perfect and perform. Each season is capped by a jubilant gala, white tents, chairs, and linens across the green lawn of the Hall of Springs. Attendees dress to impress for the occasion, with ballgowns and bowties aplenty despite high heat and humidity.
At this year’s gala, between the brightly colored sets of Coppélia and the muted grays of This Bitter Earth, president and CEO of SPAC, Elizabeth Sobol, recognized the strong history of support within Saratoga Springs, reflecting on the recent losses of Marylou Whitney and Jane Golub, longtime patrons of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. And while fireflies made an appearance at earlier performances, an evening rain rolled through during the gala’s ballet display, with clear skies and cooler temperatures welcoming guests for post-show dancing and dessert beneath the stars.
Photo credit: Jennifer Matthewson / Daily Blender; unless otherwise noted.
**This visit to Saratoga Springs was part of a media familiarization tour of the area. Many thanks to the folks at Saratoga Performing Arts Center for hosting the tour.