SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Instead of New York City Ballet’s standard summer residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, an educational series called NYCB On and Off Stage is slated to present audiences with an intimate, up-close look at selected excerpts from the company’s repertory of ballets.

In a joint decision by the company and venue, SPAC announced this week that due to the ongoing health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines mandated by New York state, NYCB will not return to its summer home in Saratoga Springs with the full company this July.

Along with this announcement, the organizations confirmed that the traditional residency engagement with the full company will be presented in 2022, from July 12 to 16.

However, six special New York City Ballet shows will take place at SPAC this summer. A small group of dancers and musicians are set to perform for Spa City audiences during the NYCB On and Off Stage series from July 14 to 17.

This series of educational programs, featuring two special presentations, has never before been presented at SPAC.

NYCB On and Off Stage will showcase two distinct programs suitable for audiences of all ages including an All Balanchine presentation - illuminating the expansive repertory of founding choreographer George Balanchine with excerpts from masterworks including Apollo, The Four Temperaments, Agon,Jewels, and Who Cares? - and a program titled Short Stories exploring beloved narrative ballets like Firebird, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Western Symphony, Fancy Free, and The Concert.

Short Stories will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14; 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 15; and 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 17. All Balanchine is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 15; 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 16; and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 17.

Both programs will feature an ensemble of 15 New York City Ballet dancers in costume performing excerpts from the company's world-renowned repertory, with live musical accompaniment provided by pianists from NYCB.

This new format represents an innovative and safe way to bring dance to the community, a press release from SPAC said, while adhering to carefully mapped out, socially-distanced seating and rigorous COVID protocols both in SPAC’s public spaces and backstage.

All shows will be hosted by a NYCB principal dancer, who will introduce the excerpts and provide insights on each ballet. Maria Kowroski will host the Short Stories presentation; and Gonzalo Garcia will host the All Balanchine presentation. Both are retiring from the company during the 2021-22 New York Season.

The NYCB On and Off Stage presentations will be offered in compliance with the current guidelines from the governor to ensure the health and safety of artists, audience members and staff. As required by New York state, all attendees of the series will be required to show either proof of vaccination no sooner than 14 days prior to the event or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event.

“Bringing this group of incomparable artists from New York City Ballet back to SPAC for this intimate presentation marks an emotional and historic moment for us and our community. Not only are we thrilled to once again see live dance on our stage, but we also have the opportunity to experience highlights from the company’s repertory in a completely fresh and new way for the first time in our 55-years together,” SPAC president and CEO Elizabeth Sobol said in the press release.

"Our devoted ballet fans and newcomers alike, will delight in seeing excerpts from Balanchine's most iconic works and some of the company's beloved story ballets, alongside unique commentary directly from the NYCB Principal Dancers."

SPAC is grateful to the company for its collaboration in ensuring that NYCB could have a presence in Saratoga Springs this summer, Sobol continued.

“While we will miss the big, lush productions for which City Ballet is renowned, the safety of the artists, audience members and staff is our greatest priority," she said. "When thinking about SPAC and re-opening, in addition to considering the audience members in our public spaces, we also have to make certain that the backstage, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and stage are all safe.

"This would not be possible with the complete NYCB organization of nearly 100 dancers, 62 orchestra members in the pit and the many production crew members and staff members backstage, as is necessary for a full-scale NYCB engagement. Bringing this new format to SPAC for 2021 ensures that we will be able to effectively create a safe environment for all."

NYCB artistic director Jonathan Stafford added, “I’ve been coming to Saratoga Springs with New York City Ballet for more than 20 years and our annual residency at SPAC has always been one of the highlights of our year thanks to the warm and enthusiastic audiences in the capital region. While it is very disappointing not to be able to bring the entire Company to SPAC this season, I am thrilled that we are able to offer these unique presentations, which will provide Saratoga audiences with an intimate, inside look at some of NYCB’s wonderful artists and repertory.”

SPAC members will have early ticket access depending on membership level, beginning on May 3. Tickets for the public will be available to purchase on May 10. Advance ticket purchases are strongly advised as ticket availability will be limited.

Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater, while designed pods of two and four will be available on the SPAC lawn.

Amphitheater tickets start at $80 per pod, which seats up to two people. Lawn tickets are available to purchase for $60 for a two-person pod, or $120 for a four-person pod. Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $40 for the amphitheater and $30 for the lawn. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.

The presentations will all be approximately 75 minutes long with no intermission. All programs and casting are subject to change.

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccination or negative test requirement, attendees must complete a health screening questionnaire and pass a mandatory temperature check prior to entry.

Guests are required to wear a face mask at all times, regardless of proof of vaccination or negative test. Visitors are permitted to bring factory sealed water bottles and essential personal items only. Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines.

More information about the upcoming NYCB On and Off Stage series is available online at spac.org.

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