Sterling Hyltin (Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

New York City Ballet's Summer Home Turns 50

Every July since 1966, New York City Ballet has headed to Saratoga Springs, NY, to perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the company's official summer home. This summer, the open-air amphitheater celebrates its 50th birthday—and to honor the anniversary, the company will present 17 different ballets, including the world premiere of resident choreographer Justin Peck's latest work. We chatted with NYCB principal Sterling Hyltin—who first performed at the venue in 2003 as a corps member and has been back every year since—about what makes SPAC special.

Dance Spirit: What's your funniest SPAC memory?

Sterling Hyltin: Once when Robert Fairchild and I were dancing Romeo and Juliet, I saw he had an enormous beetle on his eyebrow, just as we started the balcony pas de deux. I kept thinking it would fall off, but every time he came back to me it was still there—it was the most stubborn beetle! Finally, there was a point toward the end where we touch each other's faces and I said through my teeth “You have a giant bug on you!" and flicked it off. He was so startled, and then almost started laughing.

DS: Do you enjoy dancing outside?

SH: I especially like when it contributes to the story of the piece we're performing. For example, something like Romeo and Juliet is perfect because the ballet starts happily when it's still light outside, and then as the night gets darker, so does the story. It really contributes to the ominous feeling.

DS: What unique challenges does the amphitheater present?

SH: You have to contend with things you don't have to worry about indoors, like that stubborn beetle! I danced one of the hardest ballets, George Balanchine's La Source, on a day when it was 95 degrees—without the stage lights. It took about four hours for my face to stop being red and flushed after the show.

DS: Why do you love performing at SPAC?

SH: It's a time of togetherness for the company. I always share a house with some of my best friends, and it's really special. We also have two days off on the weekends, which is rare. We'll drive up to Lake George, go boating and enjoy the relaxing nature we don't get to see in NYC.

What's it take to get NYCB to Saratoga Springs each year?

For the 2015 summer season, the company traveled with seven tractor trailers, packed with:

-more than 1,000 pointe shoes

-over 400 costumes

-over 3 miles of lighting cables

-over 1,150 light bulbs

-a light board controlling over 1,000 channels

-1 washer and 1 dryer

-1 sprung floor and 1 marley

Latest Posts

Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search