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24 Years of Dance: A Ballerina Story
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Tiler Peck is living her dream. Principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, Peck will be performing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this month. She is excited to share her hard work, and her story, with the community.
Born in Bakersfield, California, Peck started dancing at the age of 2 with her mother, a dance teacher. She originally was more interested in jazz, but her mother stressed the importance of practicing and studying ballet in order to become a well-rounded dancer. After being in commercials and on TV as a child, her turning point was playing Gracie in Broadway’s “Music Man” when she was 11. After that, she entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of the New York City Ballet, when she was 12.
“I loved the way SAB teaches dance. It just seemed jazzier to me. I felt by studying here, I could get it all,” Peck said.
At 15, Peck became an apprentice with the NYC Ballet and the next year she joined the company as a member of the cour de ballet, where she was jokingly referred to as a “baby ballerina” because of her age. By 20, she worked her way up to principal dancer.
“As a principal dancer, we have to carry the entire ballet, so you can feel that weight at times. Our job is to set the standards so everyone else can rise to the occasion,” said Peck. “When the whole ballet is dependent on you, it’s a lot of pressure. We work very hard.”
The average day for Peck starts with a 10:30 a.m. class with the company and then from noon to 6 p.m., she rehearses for that evening’s show, which usually starts around 8 p.m. With around five evening shows each week, there is not much room for down time, but Peck has learned to pace herself.
“It’s important to find balance between rehearsal and the performance itself,” said Peck. “I feel the older you get, the more you learn that giving 110 percent isn’t always possible. You have to find the perfect balance.”
Although the work is hard, Peck finds happiness in loving what she does every day.
“’Theme of Variations’ is probably one of the hardest dances to perform, but I love it. I’m not afraid of it like other dancers are,” said Peck. She also loves being able to dance with her husband, principal dancer Robbie Fairchild, in Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” Fittingly, the dance they perform together is called “The Man I Love.”
Now 26, Peck has performed at SPAC with the NYC ballet for nearly a decade and really enjoys coming to Saratoga for the event.
“The best part is that you can tell the audience really looks forward to it. But also, it’s a fun getaway for us to come up here. It’s kind of like a little vacation,” Peck explains. “The company gets to live together, so we barbecue and hang out. We love the little town, all the eating places and shopping along Broadway.”
At SPAC, Peck can be seen in Justin Peck’s “Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes,” Alexei Ratmansky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mercurial Manoeuvres,” and Balanchine classics like “Tarantella,” “Symphony in C” and “Symphony in Three Movements.”
The New York City Ballet will be at SPAC from July 7 to 18. Tickets are available at SPAC.org.
Dave Matthews Band Returns to SPAC Once Again
SARATOGA – The Dave Matthews Band will be returning to Saratoga Performing Arts Center for a very special Fourth of July weekend. Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4, the much loved band will be lighting up the SPAC stage at 7 p.m. and playing two full sets each evening.
Dave Matthews Band has a distinctive relationship with SPAC, having performed at the venue 30 times since 1994. The band holds the record for sold-out performances with 10 sold-out shows under their belt.
With more than 30 million records sold worldwide, Dave Matthews Band has been a staple in the rock genre for nearly 25 years. Beginning in 1991, the band currently includes vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews, drummer Carter Beauford, bassist Stefan Lessard, keyboardist Peter Griesar and violinist Boyd Tinsley. The group won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and 13 Grammy nominations overall.
Dave Matthews Band is known for their distinguished live performances, where they sample from any of their eight studio albums and play popular covers.
Adding to the performances this year will be banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, who will be playing several songs with the band both nights.
Those who attend the SPAC show this weekend can also look forward to the typical “party” atmosphere Dave Matthews Band brings, mostly in the twenty-something demographic. With two nights full of music, attendees can chill out, relax and listen to their favorite Dave Matthews songs along with unique, collaborative performances the band is known for.
As usual, fans are encouraged to record and distribute audio for free from the two-night event, a practice that has bolstered the band’s popularity and contributed to the diversity of their archive of performances. You can purchase a ticket to see the show from the Taper Section, which allows you to set up your recording rig and tape the show.
For any local Dave Matthews Band fans, this is a weekend event that cannot be missed and will only add to the band’s vast history at SPAC.
Tickets are still available at SPAC.org and through Ticketmaster.
Saratoga County Fair Hosts Third Annual Lego Contest
By Rebecca Davis
BALLSTON SPA – Legos building blocks have transcended generations as a toy that allows kids of all ages to express their creativity, imagination, and innovation. These skills can be put to use at the 174th Saratoga County Fair in its third annual Lego contest.
The theme for the contest is “A Day at the Fair.” Participants are encouraged to build animals, buildings, farming equipment, fair rides and games or whatever vision they have that has to do with the county fair. Popular entries from previous years include demolition derbies, barns, and even a Ferris wheel.
Susan Leahey, who is on the fair’s board of directors and runs its education department, came up with the idea for the contest with her daughter, Kimberly. After seeing her grandchildren participate in a Lego contest at Saratoga Elementary, she knew it would be a great addition to the fair.
“My grandchildren just love Legos, so I thought this would be a good idea. We thought we’d try it out,” Leahey said. “But it’s become very popular. It’s a challenge for the kids; they get so excited about it. It’s also just amazing what the children can build.”
The age categories are 4 to 6 years old, 7 to 9 years old, 10 to 12 years old, 13 to 15 years old and family. There is no entry fee with a paid admission to the fair. All entries must be labeled with name, age, and title of their Lego design.
This year, the prizes are family four-packs to the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady and cash prizes from ITT Technical Institute. The total value of the prizes is $500, with prizes being awarded to first, second, and third place winners.
Lego creations should be brought to the Saratoga Country Fair Talent Pavilion/Family Center between 10 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, July 22. Kids and their families will then have a chance to set up their display how they want it to look and put on the finishing touches to get ready for judging.
The entries will be judged based on how age-appropriate the displays are and how well they match the fair theme. No pre-made Lego kits are allowed to be used so the creations have to come from their own imaginations.
Judging will begin at 2 p.m. and the Saratoga County Fair Education Committee will have the Legos on display until 4 p.m., when the Legos can then be taken home.
Entry forms for the contest are available at the Fair Office at 162 Prospect Street in Ballston Spa or at Saratogacountyfair.com under “fair forms.”
The Saratoga County Fair will run from July 21 to 26.
Grant Cottage Displays Civil War Arms
WILTON – This weekend, a local Civil War arms collector, who prefers to remain unnamed, will display and discuss his large personal collection at Grant Cottage in Wilton, as part of an Independence Day celebration. The discussion will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 5.
Grant Cottage is known for being the house where General Ulysses S. Grant died 130 years ago this month. The cottage remains fundamentally the same as it did during the Grant family’s stay there, with original furnishings, decorations, and personal items.
On the porch of the cottage, where the arms will be displayed, there will be sabers, swords, Whitney percussion pistols, and bayonets. During the discussion, the collector will discuss the Confederate Richmond musket and the Springfield rifle. He will also tell the story of when Confederates captured the Harper’s Ferry Arsenal, which allowed them to model their own weaponry after what they found.
This exhibit will be present at the Grant Cottage Visitor Center for the season.
Grant Cottage is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through Labor Day and on weekends through Columbus Day.
From the Farm to the Fork
SARATOGA SPRINGS – First Harvest, an all-local food and beverage tasting, will be held on Thursday July 16 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 112 Spring Street in Saratoga.
Benefits from the event will go to the Regional Farm and Food project, a non-profit whose mission is to provide a better return on the investment of food and tax dollars by building supply and demand for local foods. It seeks to connect consumers to local food through accessibility, education, and emergency relief. The RFFP has a special focus on small, local farms and their multitude of benefits to the community. Other supporters of the event include the American Farmland Trust, Saratoga PLAN, Land Trust Alliance and Sustainable Saratoga.
All food and beverages at the event will be from local farms, vineyards, breweries, chefs and restaurants including:
Victory View Vineyards
Moon Garden Teas
9 Miles East
Fior D” Italia
Healthy Living Market
Gomez Veggie Ville
Happy Birthday Park Side Eatery!
Come Celebrate Park Side Eatery’s Second Birthday Bash this Fourth of July Weekend
Saturday 7/4 - Seth Rosan bagpiping to celebrate the Fourth of July. Outside on Phila Street (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Saturday 7/4 - Balloon Gal Jenny--Balloon art for everyone
7/4 - Saratoga Chips “Old Glory Limited Production”
7/4 - Chatham Brewery - Draft samples
Saturday 7/4 - $1 Doughnuts
Saturday 7/4 - $1 BBQ Pork Ribs (Grilled outside 11-3:30)
Smoked Chicken Dinners
And much more!
A mini cupcake for every person through the door.
Come and celebrate with us at 42 Phila Street. Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. You will also be able to pick up a copy of our new menu that is being launched on July 1st!
Caffè Lena Welcomes Back Harpeth Rising
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Harpeth Rising, a Louisville, Kentucky-based folk band, is touring this summer to promote their new album, “Live at the Dreaming Tree.” At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, the band will be returning to perform at Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs.
Graduates of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where they met, this all-female trio is influenced by rock, folk, roots and bluegrass. They have been together six years, touring both nationally and internationally. Combining banjo, violin, cello and foot percussion, along with impressive three-part vocals, their performance at Caffè Lena is sure to be an exhilarating one. Not only do they play their own original music but they give popular covers, including songs by Led Zeppelin and Pete Seeger, an exceptional and original sound.
Caffè Lena is located at 47 Phila Street in Saratoga Springs. Tickets to the July 15 show at 7 p.m. are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $8 for students and children. For tickets please call 1-800-838-3006 or go to caffelena.org.
Comedian Returns to Hometown for a Night of Laughs
SARATOGA - Though she might live on the West Coast, comedian Sara DeForest is crossing the country to return to her hometown of Saratoga for a night of hilarious performances. The Comedy’s Best Kept Secret Tour is coming to the famous Parting Glass Pub on June 26, making this DeForest’s first time ever performing her hometown.
“I’m thrilled about it,” DeForest said. “I started doing standup when I moved to San Francisco last year and have only done shows there, so none of my high school friends have had a chance to see me perform. A lot of my friends and family had no idea that I was interested in comedy, so I’m hoping they’ll be curious enough to check it out.”
Saratoga Springs High School alumna, DeForest was simultaneously a band geek and prom queen. She attended Tufts University and upon graduation worked in public relations in New York City, where she began to regularly visit comedy shows. Seeing Louis C.K. at the Beacon Theater was a vital moment in her career path. From there, she eagerly sought out all the stand-up albums she could find. However it was not until moving to California that DeForest finally took the stage. After attending classes at the San Francisco Comedy College, she became immersed in performing all around the city.
DeForest has performed in the Stanford Pride Comedy Show and the Best of San Francisco Comedy Show, as well as many clubs in San Francisco such as the Purple Onion and Doc’s Lab. She is the winner of the Comedy Machine stand-up competition.
Comedy’s Best Kept Secret Tour recently traveled from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska in a tour that covers 40 cities in just 36 months. Joining DeForest in the local June 26 performance will be Dan Frigolette, another native from the Capital Region. Born in Schenectady, he has appeared in Boardwalk Empire and The Wendy Williams Show. John Saponaro, runner-up in Make Me Laugh Albany, and Matt Richards, seen on Oxygen and BET, will also be performing.
For DeForest, she is just happy to be sharing her comedy with the place she calls home. She would even like to make performing in Saratoga a regular gig, setting up shows for whenever she comes to town.
“Right now, I’d call standup comedy a serious hobby for me. I’m doing it for fun and I love being a part of the comic community in San Francisco, but I have a full time job so this is something I do as a side project, and a creative outlet. I’d love to become a writer for a TV show,” DeForest said, “A big part of standup is the writing – even if you’re a great performer, if the jokes aren’t well-written then the audience isn’t going to laugh. The plan is to keep working hard at this, try to meet the right people in the industry and talk to them about what it takes to become a comedy writer, and see if I can make something happen.”
DeForest, alongside Frigolette, Saponaro, and Richards, can be seen on June 26 at the Parting Glass Pub, 40-42 Lake Ave, in Saratoga Springs. Tickets are $15 and available online at comedysbestkeptsecret.com, with a limited number of tickets available at the door.
*Correction: The tickets are $15, not $25 as stated in the original press release.*
Mansion Inn Presents Cabaret Dinners and Live Shows
ROCK CITY FALLS– The Mansion Inn is well-known in Saratoga for hosting weddings and special events and now it will be known for something new: Cabaret. Introduced just last month is the Mansion Inn’s 801 Supper Club, nights of gourmet food and live performances from Tony award winners and nominees that will continue all summer.
Jeff Wodicka and Neil Castro, owners of The Mansion Inn, have been working hard to establish cabaret entertainment for some time and are excited to finally be able to see their plans come to fruition.
“I feel very fortunate,” Wodicka said. “We were able to bring in talent you normally wouldn’t see in a theater so small.”
Thursday evening the Supper Club presented Lee Roy Reams, a Tony Award nominee for his work in the musical “42nd Street” along with an impressive resume of shows such as “Oklahoma,” “Hello Dolly,” “The Producers” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The first Supper Club, held May 28, hosted celebrity impersonators Joe Posa and Scott Townsend. Dressed as Joan Rivers and Cher, the duo used their own voices to impersonate these stars.
Upcoming shows include Liliane Montevecchi on July 16, Beth Leavel on July 30 and Sharon Mcknight on August 6. Coming in September, there will be shows scheduled that focus on Jazz singers and entertainers.
Wodicka is looking forward to Montevecchi’s upcoming performance on July 16 and said he was “amazed” the Supper Club was able to bring her in for a show. Liliane Montevecchi, born in Paris, recently appeared in Manhattan at the revival of the cast of “Grand Hotel” to rave reviews in the NY Times. For her work in the musical “Nine” she won a Tony and the Drama Desk Award for best actress. She has appeared in films such as “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Wall Street” and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. At the age of 82, she can still kick her leg over her head. For the Supper Club she will be singing, dancing and sharing stories of her vast experiences.
Those who attend the Supper Club will be treated first to a three-course supper and then a 90 minute show in an intimate setting, the recently renovated Carriage House at the Inn. The stage is big and with around 100 guests, the audience can look forward to an interactive, up-close performance.
Preparing the supper is Executive Chef Rick Bieber. He is a classically trained French Chef and a graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Guests get to choose their menu from a prepared list, beginning with a salad or bruschetta option, a supper choice of prime rib, grilled swordfish or eggplant stack, and dessert is either crème brûlée or a chocolate truffle tart.
The Mansion Inn is located at 801 Route 29 in Rock City Falls, just seven miles west of Saratoga. Tickets are now on sale for Supper Club online at TheMansionSaratoga.com or by calling 518-885-1607. For the entire evening, dinner and show included, tickets are $55.
Ready for Flight: Balloon Fest This Weekend
BALLSTON SPA – This Father’s Day Weekend, June 19 to 21, The Saratoga Balloon and Craft Festival will be held at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa for another year of colorful balloons, arts and crafts, live entertainment and more food vendors than ever before.
The festival starts this afternoon and continues until Sunday evening. Balloon launches begin tonight at 6 p.m. and then Saturday and Sunday in the early morning and evening. Those who attend can also look forward to staying for the Balloon Glow on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. The Glow features 20 balloons that illuminate the fairgrounds as their propane burners ignite and light up the night with beautiful color.
Guests can also book balloon rides for an extra fee and be guided over Saratoga’s countryside.
Festival hours are noon to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for adults 16 and up is $10 daily and $15 for the weekend. Children ages 3 to 15 are $5 daily and $10 for the weekend. Age 2 and under are free.
For more information and a full schedule list, visit balloonandcraft.com