Foreground, Chase Finlay (kneeling) and Tiler Peck perform in Peter Martins’ “Bal de Couture,” making its Saratoga premiere in July at SPAC. (Paul Kolnik)
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A ballet by up-and-coming choreographer Justin Peck and new works by ballet master Peter Martins and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon are among the highlights of the New York City Ballet’s July residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
City Ballet will be at SPAC for just one week this year, July 9-13, but will present 15 different ballets, from classic Balanchine masterworks to pieces making their Saratoga Springs debuts.
Peck’s Saratoga Premiere
The season will feature the Saratoga premiere of Peck’s most recent work for New York City Ballet, “Year of the Rabbit.” The piece, for 18 dancers, is set to indie-folk composer Sufjan Stevens’ “Enjoy Your Rabbit,” an electronica album and song cycle based on the Chinese zodiac.
New York City Ballet SPAC Program
Online ticket sales for New York City Ballet’s Saratoga Season begin on March 18 at spac.org. Tickets for inside seating range from $80-$30; lawn seats are $24. All programs are subject to change. For more information, visit spac.org.
• Tuesday, July 9, 8 p.m.
“Garland Dance” from “The Sleeping Beauty” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine); “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine); “Year of the Rabbit” (Stevens/Peck); “Opus 19/The Dreamer” (Prokofiev/Robbins); “Theme and Variations” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine)
• Wednesday, July 10, 8 p.m.
“Serenade” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine); “Garland Dance” from “The Sleeping Beauty” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine); “After the Rain (Pas de Deux)” (Pärt/Wheeldon);
“Year of the Rabbit” (Stevens/Peck); “Theme and Variations” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine)
• Thursday, July 11, 2 p.m.
“Barber Violin Concerto” (Barber/Martins); “Opus 19/The Dreamer” (Prokofiev/Robbins); “Stravinsky Violin Concerto: (Stravinsky/Balanchine)
• Thursday, July 11, 8 p.m.
“Serenade” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine); “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” (Stravinsky/Balanchine); “Theme and Variations” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine)
• Friday, July 12, 8 p.m.
“Hallelujah Junction” (Adams/Martins); “After the Rain (Pas de Deux)” (Pärt/Wheeldon); “Dances at a Gathering” (Chopin/Robbins)
• Saturday, July 13, 2 p.m.
“Year of the Rabbit” (Stevens/Peck); “Garland Dance” from “The Sleeping Beauty” (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine); “Barber Violin Concerto” (Barber/Martins); “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” (Stravinsky/Balanchine)
• Saturday, July 13, 8 p.m.
The Ballet Gala: “The Ruby Ball”
“Bal de Couture” (Tschaikovsky/Martins); “This Bitter Earth” (Wheeldon/Washington and Richter); “Rubies” (Stravinsky/Balanchine); “West Side Story Suite” (Bernstein/Robbins)
Peck, a member of NYCB’s corps de ballet since 2007, has been recognized for his choreographic promise since his debut as a choreographer in 2009, earning favorable notices from The New York Times, Dance Magazine and Vanity Fair among others. He earned a Bessie Award nomination in 2011 in the “Outstanding Emerging Choreographer” category.
“Year of the Rabbit” debuted on Oct. 5 in New York City to wide critical acclaim and will be performed at SPAC July 9, 10 and 13.
The summer program includes highlights of NYCB’s “Tchaikovsky Celebration,” a centerpiece of its winter season at Lincoln Center. Five of the summer season’s 15 ballets feature the music of Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Choreographer and NYCB co-founder George Balanchine had a special affinity for Tchaikovsky, according to the Balanchine Trust. “In everything that I did to Tchaikovsky’s music, I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tchaikovsky who had helped me,” he once told an interviewer, the Trust said.
Four Balanchine/Tchaikovsky pieces will be on the program this July, including “Seranade” and the “Garland Dance” from “Sleeping Beauty,” which features a large cast including 16 children.
The Ballet Gala will feature the Saratoga premiere of a new work by Martins, the ballet master in chief.
“Bal de Couture,” set to Tchaikovsky’s score “Eugene Onegin,” features striking costumes created by legendary fashion designer and master couturier Valentino Garavani.
Also featuring an original Valentino costume design is Wheeldon’s pas de deux “This Bitter Earth,” also having its Saratoga premiere at the Gala. Set to Max Richter’s remake of Dinah Washington’s 1960 rhythm and blues song of the same name, the work is excerpted from Wheeldon’s “Five Movements, Three Repeats.”
Other repertory highlights of the season include a July 11 evening of “20th Century Violin Concertos” featuring Martins’ “Barber Violin Concerto,” which explores the contrast between classical and modern dance; Jerome Robbins’ ethereal, introspective “Opus 19/The Dreamer”; and Balanchine’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” a signature “black and white” ballet and a work widely considered one of the choreographer’s greatest.
And before the ballet . . .
SPAC’s Pre-Performance Talks series features world-class musicians, dancers, conductors, composers and scholars sharing insights and perspectives with small groups prior to classical performances. Created to enhance SPAC’s educational mission, the Talks are held one hour before curtain in the Hall of Springs Gold Room. Admission to the Talks is just $5 and open only to ticket holders.
• Tuesday, July 9, 7 p.m. TBA
• Wednesday, July 10, 7 p.m.: Justin Peck, choreographer; dancer, New York City Ballet
• Thursday, July 11, 1 p.m.: Deborah Jowitt, dance critic, scholar and author of “Jerome Robbins, His Life, His Theater, His Dance”
• Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m.: Deborah Jowitt
• Friday, July 12, 7 p.m.: Conversation with a New York City Ballet dancer
• Saturday, July 13, 1 p.m.: Mindy Aloff, professor of dance at Barnard College, consultant to The George Balanchine Foundation, and author of “Hippo in a Tutu” and “Dance Anecdotes”
• Saturday, July 13 (Gala): No Pre-Performance Talk