World Class Ballet and a World Premiere Leap into Sun Valley

If you love ballet or simply love the chance to see the best of the best perform, then you can’t miss the Ballet Sun Valley Festival, coming to Sun Valley August 22 – 24. Twenty-four of some of the brightest names in the ballet world will perform and debut a world-premiere ballet with an original score. Principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre (ABT), New York City Ballet, England’s Royal Ballet, Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet will share their talent and vision in this one-of-a-kind event.

The American Ballet Theatre (and the Wood River Valley’s own) Isabella Boylston’s vision to bring world-class ballet to Sun Valley this summer is coming true with two performances, including a world premiere (Photo by: Ungano +Agriodim)

Why are acclaimed dancers including Misty Copeland, Isabella Boylston, Lauren Cuthbertson, Marcelo Gomes, Kimin Kim, and Maria Kochetkova, traveling to Sun Valley to dance, you may ask. It is largely thanks to Sun Valley native and prima ballerina Isabella Boylston.

Boylston, a principal dancer with ABT, fell in love with ballet as a young dancer in the Wood River Valley studying with Hilarie Neely of the Footlight Dance Centre. Ballet became her passion and she went on to train seriously in Colorado before heading for the bright lights of New York. Boylston joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in 2005, the main company as an apprentice in May 2006, and the corps de ballet in March 2007. She was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2014. She is known for her gorgeous lines, musicality, range, and powerful jump.

No matter how accomplished she became in the professional ballet world, though, Isabella never forget her Idaho roots and had a vision to put on a festival in her hometown that would bring together some of the best talent in the world of classical ballet. She joined forces with Robert Smelick and Dan Drackett, two Sun Valley residents who previously organized a performance from the San Francisco Ballet in Sun Valley, and together, her dream came to fruition. She invited many friends with whom she had worked to collaborate on the Festival, and Drackett and Smelick managed the organization and support, as well as the sponsor support, needed for such a large undertaking.

A rising star in the world of ballet choreography, Gemma Boyd works here with ballerina Isabella Boylston (Photo by: Dane Shitagi for Ballerina Project_

Boylston also joined forces with one of the rising stars in the world of ballet choreography, Gemma Bond, to bring a world premiere ballet to the Pavilion stage August 24. All eyes will be on this production: a real feather in Sun Valley’s cultural cap. Bond, a previous member of London’s Royal Ballet and a current member of ABT’s corps de ballet set a piece that draws inspiration from the Great American Eclipse, occurring on August 21. Sun Valley lies in the path of totality of this historic event and Bond’s work reflects the metaphors that surround it. According Ballet Sun Valley organizers, her work “explores the vast ethos of space and darkness with a journey to the despair that results from darkness and uncertainty, and the rebirth that can occur as light evolves out of this darkness.”

Bond, a groundbreaker as a woman choreographer in a predominantly male world, is making a splash with original works that have been seen at the prestigious Erik Bruhn Competition, the Youth America Grand Prix Gala, and the historical 92nd Street Y in New York City. She has created works for Atlanta Ballet, New York Theater Ballet, Intermezzo Ballet Company, and the Hartt School. She was also commissioned by the Joyce Theater for a new work that debuted this year, as well as an original work for DC’s Washington Ballet to be performed in the spring of 2018 for which she won the prestigious Princess Grace Award for Choreography. She is definitely one to watch.

Guest artists like the Mariinsky Ballet’s Kimin Kim will electrify the audience as part of the Ballet Sun Valley Festival (Photo by: Baki (Gui Sub Park))

Not only is the choreography for Sun Valley’s world premiere original, so is the music by Judd Greenstein. His previous work includes original scores for the Minnesota Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony, and the North Carolina Symphony among others. The rest of Boylston’s ‘dream team’ also includes Kate Duhamel, a pioneer in the field of video and dance who has been commissioned to create background video to help tell the ballet’s story. Duhamel is best known for her videography in San Francisco Ballet’s Swimmer. New York-based Reid and Harriet is designing costumes and lighting is being created by David Robertson.

In addition to the world premiere on August 24, a dazzling gala will be held on Tuesday, August 22, also at the Pavilion, featuring works by some of the contemporary choreographers Boylston most admires. She has curated an ambitious and diverse program sure to impress including classics from George Balanchine and work from Alexei Ratmansky, ABT’s Artist in Residence. Twenty-five musicians from the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and elsewhere will provide live music for the performance. The evening will also include an excerpt from the Danish ballet Kermesse in Bruges performed by dancers from the Royal Danish Ballet. This piece is rarely seen in the United States.

The ballet is coming to town and people could not be more excited to watch a world premiere and the world’s most gifted dancers in the intimate, beautiful venue of the Sun Valley Pavilion

Local dancers will also benefit from the visit, something that is important to Boylston. She organized a Day for Dance Education on August 23 where some of the ballet stars will teach free dance classes to aspiring students. To be considered for a class, students must complete an application which can be found on the Ballet Sun Valley website. A committee of dance instructors will select the students to be invited to participate.

“This a dream realized for me,” said Boylston. “Sun Valley is where I came to love ballet, where the root of inspiration took hold. This is one way I can give back and perform alongside artists I respect in a beautiful yet culturally vibrant place that’s close to my heart.”

For Ballet Sun Valley ticket prices and availability, lodging and more information, please visit www.balletsunvalley.com or call (208) 727-7437. Tickets, ranging from $50 to $500, may also be purchased at the Sun Valley Resort ticket office or by calling (208) 622-2135. $25 lawn tickets are now available as well! And rumor has it lead sponsor Viking Cruises will be donating three spectacular ocean cruises to be raffled in support of the event. Watch for details on the prize and how to purchase tickets.

Be prepared to be dazzled!

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