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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ballet at SPAC is a treasure that you can help keep

Man cannot live on Phish alone.
The jam band brought thousands of people to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for three consecutive evenings of concerts this weekend. Phish is popular entertainment that rightfully has a home at SPAC.
But the classical arts are SPAC’s legacy, and world-class ballet remains a Saratoga treasure — for now.
With just one day’s turnaround after Phish, on Tuesday the New York City Ballet opens its five-day residency at SPAC with seven performances and 14 different ballets spread between Tuesday and Saturday.
I only want to say one thing: Go.
The New York City Ballet at SPAC.
You don’t have to know a thing about ballet. I don't. And I know you can’t go wrong with the “West Side Story Suite.” I've discovered that sitting inside is amazing, but usually I am happy to bring a lawn chair and watch the stars above as well as on stage.
The classical arts at SPAC are part of Saratoga’s cachet, which benefits everyone. But that’s not the only reason to support it: To have something so special, so close, it’s a shame to miss the chance to experience it. For children, it can be a life-changer, and children 12 and younger are free on the lawn for all performances except the July 13 Ballet Gala.
Since SPAC’s inception more than 40 years ago, the NYCB has been its primary resident in July, and the Philadephia Orchestra in August.  
But the subsidies have become too high for SPAC to reasonably bear. The length of the NYCB residency has shrunk in recent years from three weeks to two and now to one — and the one week is actually five days.
SPAC will pay about $1 million to bring the ballet here this year, and on Friday announced it has agreed to do the same in 2014. Ticket sales generally cover about 40 percent of the cost classical arts, with fund-raisers and patrons making up the difference.
SPAC is doing its part. It offers member perks, innovative marketing, fund-raising events, pre-performance talks with ballet dancers and others, and free lawn seats for kids. They’ve also bolstered the shortened NYCB residency by bringing in two new companies this year: the National Ballet of Canada will perform July 16-18 and Aspen Sante Fe Ballet will perform July 24-25.
Now it’s up to you.
What happens with ballet at SPAC after next year will depend on you —Phish fans included.


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