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Thursday, 06 August 2015 16:37

Free Concerts Brighten Dark Tuesdays

STILLWATER – The race track in Saratoga Springs may be quiet on Tuesdays, but Saratoga Battlefield will be alive with music.  Friends of Saratoga Battlefield are sponsoring a series of free lunchtime concerts at Saratoga National Historical Park’s visitor center at noon on each of the Tuesdays in August. Bring a lunch and listen to a different program each week. The first was held on August 4 with harpist Elizabeth Huntley, much to the enjoyment of park visitors. The remaining concert schedule is as follows:

August 11 – Rich Bala

Find out how waterways and canals shaped New York’s history from colonial times to the end of the 19th century on a musical tour by acclaimed folk singer Rich Bala.

August 18– Tom Akstens and Neil Rossi

The neighboring Adirondack State Park is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, and renowned for outdoor recreation. Once it was home to loggers, miners, farmers and hermits.  Learn about their lives and work through songs presented by Tom Akstens and Neil Rossi.

August 25 – Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps

Enjoy 18th Century martial music at its best. Hear the songs that heartened armies and gave them direction during the Revolutionary War presented by Fort Ticonderoga’s Fife and Drum Corps.

Saratoga Arts made this program possible with a 2015 Community Arts Grant funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


Saratoga National Historical Park offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year. For further information, contact the park at (518) 670-2985, or visit www.nps.gov/sara.

Thursday, 06 August 2015 16:33

New Exhibit Honors Prominent Choreographer

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Choreographer Mark Morris will be visiting the National Museum of Dance on Sunday, August 9 at 11:30 a.m. for a meet and greet session with visitors. Patrons will have the opportunity to talk with Morris and view the new exhibition in his honor that opens the same day.  Morris is also the newest Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame inductee, along with the posthumous induction of ballet dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev. This event is free and open to the public. Brunch will be served. 

 A native of Seattle, Mark Morris performed with the companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble early in his career. He founded the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980. Revered for his exceptional musicality, innovation and humor, he has created close to 150 pieces for MMDG, and his choreographed work is included in the repertories of numerous dance companies such as the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. 

Morris served as the Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels where he created three of his masterworks, “L’Allegro,” “il Penseroso ed il Moderato,” “Dido and Aeneas,” and “The Hard Nut.” He actively conducts music, and directs and choreographs operas for the Metropolitan Opera, The Royal Opera, Covent Garden and others. In 2001, Morris founded the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn to provide a home for his company, rehearsal space for the community, programs for local children and seniors, and a school offering dance classes to students of all ages and levels.

 The National Museum of Dance is located at 99 South Broadway in Saratoga Springs. The Museum is currently open for daily admission Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. For more information about exhibitions and upcoming events at the Museum, visit www.dancemuseum.org or call (518) 584-2225.


SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Creative Place International, a small professional Actor’s Equity theater company in residence at the Riggi Theater at the National Museum of Dance, will present Jerry Sterner’s play from the 1980’s, “Other People’s Money,” from August 13 to 16.

The play follows the drama of a hostile takeover of an obsolete New England family business, which has provided jobs and sustenance for an entire town for decades. We meet the earnest and deserving family that has run the business as they come up against “Larry the Liquidator,” a Wall Street predator everyone will love to hate.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump said the play “is extraordinarily insightful, timely and witty.”

“Some of the funniest lines I’ve heard in a long time,” Wall Street denizen Carl Icahn said.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, August 13 to 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 16 at 2 p.m. Sunday’s performance is a benefit for the Yaddo Garden Association. Tickets are available online at brownpapertickets.com/event/1668207 or by calling (518) 584-7780. For more information, visit thecreativeplaceinternational.org. 

Thursday, 06 August 2015 16:10

History of Saratoga to Benefit Community

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Now that the city of Saratoga Springs has reached its 100th year, there is a book that puts those years in a clear perspective. With 27 authors and 31 chapters, “Saratoga Springs: A Centennial History” is now available at Northshire Bookstore. On August 11, Northshire is hosting a discussion and book signing that will include Field Horne, the editor, and several authors including Phyllis Aldrich, Kirsten Ferguson, Mary Ann Fitzgerald, Amy Godine and Lance Ingmeyer.

“The book is selling briskly and I know people are excited about it,” said Rachel Person, Northshire Bookstore’s event coordinator. “This is a great community-spirited project with a definitive look at our town’s history.”

At over 400 pages, “Saratoga Springs: A Centennial History” is the first complete history of Saratoga Springs compiled into a single volume. What is also impressive is that the authors wrote it as volunteers. All funds raised by the book benefit the Saratoga Springs History Museum, the History Room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library and the New York State Military Museum in order to procure more historical displays and exhibits from Saratoga’s past. The book is currently on sale at Northshire Bookstore for $49.95.


The book talk and signing will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 11 and is a free event that is open to the public. The Northshire Bookstore is located at 424 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. For more information, visit northshire.com. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:22

Philadelphia Orchestra Returns to SPAC

SARATOGA SPRINGS – One of the most prominent orchestras in the world, The Philadelphia Orchestra is holding its 2015 residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center beginning August 5 and going until August 22.

A spectacular roster of conductors including Philadelphia Orchestra principal guest conductor Stèphane Denève, conductor-in-residence Christian Măcelaru and Steven Reineke will lead the orchestra during its three-weeks of performances.

“The impressive combination of the unique Philadelphian sound and SPAC’s outdoor beauty has enthralled audiences young and old for nearly fifty years,” said Marcia J. White, SPAC’s president and executive director.

Some major highlights of the residency include the Philadelphia Orchestra debut of sensational Broadway and screen superstar Bernadette Peters on opening night, August 5. On August 8, the Orchestra will present “Pixar in Concert” where clips from all 14 of Pixar’s films, including “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo” and “Up,” will be accompanied by the live symphony orchestra. An icon of classical music, Yo-Yo Ma will play “Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major” on August 7.

Other points of interest include a night of all Beethoven on Wednesday, August 12 and on August 14, the New York City Ballet returns to SPAC to perform selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” alongside the orchestra.


For a full line-up of the residency and to purchase tickets please visit spac.org. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:17

Swing of Fire Lights Up Gala

SARATOGA SPRINGS –With the top auction items priced at $55,000 and $35,000, this year’s auction at Saratoga Hospital’s 33rd Annual Summer Gala features items with a higher value than any year prior. All proceeds benefit the services and programs at the Saratoga Community Health Center. The theme for this year’s gala is “Caddyshack” and it will be held Wednesday, August 5 at 6 p.m. at Polo Meadow at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

Jim Sasko at Teakwood Builders has teamed up with six other companies to construct the Swing of Fire, a $35,000 outdoor space. It features three swinging benches surrounding a gas fire pit donated by Mohawk Heating Company. The Swing of Fire was designed by Balzer and Tuck, timber was donated by Legacy Limber and Frames with finishes by Winslow Painting. After installation, New Dimensions Outdoor Services makes sure the backyard is exquisitely landscaped . The Swing of Fire will be installed by a massive crane the Monday before the gala so it can be on display that night. The organizations collaborated in a concentrated effort to make the Swing of Fire an amazing backyard spectacle.

“We knew we wanted to build something that was going to be creative and mobile. It has to be able to be assembled on site and reassembled in new location. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Jim Sasko, of Teakwood Builders. “Putting it together is going great, it’s really cool. I hope it goes to a nice home where someone can enjoy it.”  

A $55,000 Kentucky Derby experience also tops the auction list. Donated by Marylou Whitney and her husband John, six guests will be flown in a private jet to Louisville for the 2016 Kentucky Derby where they will sit in the famous Whitney Box on the finish line. Guests will also receive VIP transportation from the airport to Churchill Downs. Dinner and champagne will be served on the ride home.

The gala starts at 6 p.m. with the auction beginning at 7 p.m. For dinner, guests will enjoy locally grown food prepared by Executive Chef Steve Nash, signature cocktails and open bar, plus dessert. 


For tickets please visit http://saratogahospital.org/services/events/the-summer-gala-2/

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Music and photography combine for a dynamic evening on August 4 that celebrates the historic centennial of Saratoga Springs. The Saratoga Soul Centennial Jazz Concert and Photographic Exhibit celebrate the ancestry of the Daggs family, who has resided in Saratoga since the nineteenth century. This centennial celebration will take place at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga State Park on Tuesday, August 4. The photographic exhibit will be on display from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7 p.m.

There are over 100 photographs spanning 100 years of the Daggs family in the exhibit. Many of the photos were found in boxes after members of the Daggs family passed. Others were taken by Carol Daggs, a prominent member of the Daggs family and musician in Jazzage, which will be performing the jazz concert.

“Surprises and excitement have been the energy of the entire project,” said Carol Daggs. “It’s sometimes difficult to conceive how your ancestors might have dealt with life day-to-day at school, at work, at play. It’s nice to see images of people you’ve never met but heard stories about or have only seen in photographs.”

One photo featured at the exhibit, a picture of Ethel Daggs in Congress Park in the early twentieth century, was chosen to be showcased at the Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany on August 1.

With all of the changes and developments happening in Saratoga in recent years, Carol Daggs emphasized how important it is to preserve the community history. This event will serve as a memorial that will honor the history of Saratoga families, like the Daggs family, which have thrived in the area for generations.

The photo exhibit is the prelude to a concert by Jazzage, which will be performing jazz, soul and rhythm and blues. Carol Daggs is on piano and vocals, her brother James Daggs is on upright bass and Billy Arnold is on drums. Carol Daggs defines Jazzage as “the artful application of musical jazz sounds to the auditory apparatus and soul via vocal and instrumental flow.” There will be CDs on sale the night of the event.

“People should expect to leave that evening feeling inspired. It’s important to celebrate these 100 years,” Carol Daggs explained. “With all the funky junk in the world you’re lucky if you get 100 days or 100 minutes of something. Life can be more celebratory than we know. It needs to be celebrated.”


Tickets to the Saratoga Soul Centennial are $25 regular admission, $15 for students and seniors and $40 for couples. Tickets are available at the SPAC box office or by calling 518-584-9330 ext. 135 (except for $40 couple’s tickets, which must be purchased in person.) 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Sara Cummings, a mother of two, recently went out to a popular chain restaurant and noticed that the kids there weren’t having a good time. They were fidgeting in their booths and had energy that couldn’t be contained in a regular restaurant setting. But Cummings had a plan. Her and her husband, Patrick Finch, have designed a place where parents and children can both be happy. The Saratoga’s Kids Castle, a restaurant paradise for kids, is opening its doors on August 13 to provide Saratoga with a much needed family space.

“We thought ‘I think we’re onto something here,’” said Cummings. “The community has given us a positive response and we’re really excited about it.”

Saratoga’s Kids Castle features giant structures for children to play on, such as castles and pirate ships. There are play and craft tables and dress up stations where kids can put their imaginations to work.

For children under the age of three, there is a baby and toddler play area called “Crinkle Manor,” where there are age-appropriate toys for little ones to build their cognitive development while also having fun. It is also safe for small children since they cannot enter or leave “Crinkle Manor” by themselves.

“There is no TV and no electronics, just real play and real interaction,” said Cummings.

The menu is yet another kid-friendly aspect of Saratoga’s Kids Castle. The menu was created by registered dietitian in nutrition, Nichole Doolingm of Whole Nichole Nutrition. The food is all nutritious, healthy and authentic. There are even special sections of the menu with food designed based on the age of the child. The menu is mindful of food allergies and intolerances with special menu items for both parents and children. There is also a full café menu which includes lattes, coffees, loose teas, smoothies and juices.

Sara Cummings and Patrick Finch both have a history in real-estate and operating a restaurant. In 2006, Finch purchased and operated the Saratoga City Tavern and in 2014 he renovated and opened Kings Tavern. With this experience under their belts, they are ready to take on this adventure together.

“I’m looking forward the most to the birthday parties,” Cummings explained. “A lot of the employees are in the local drama club so they’re very interactive and creative with the kids.”

There are eight detailed party packages to choose from including the Princess Spa Party, the Dragon Party and the King or Queen Party.

Adding to the festive and lively atmosphere of the restaurant/play land are large murals painted by Gretchen Tisch from Saratoga’s Paint and Sip. Interestingly, the king and queen mural overlooking the baby area is based on the likeness of Sara Cumming’s parents while the pirate room has a mural of crazy pirates based on Patrick Finch’s parents. In the kitchen area, there is a lacrosse princess mural that represents Cumming’s 13 year old daughter, Katie.

Visitors will finally get to see Saratoga’s Kids Castle on August 13, opening at 9 a.m. with a ribbon cutting tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m.  Hours will be Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. On the weekend, it is open from 5 to 7 p.m. with a special focus on birthday parties during the day. Admission is $10 for all-day play per child. From 4:30 to 7 p.m., admission is free. There are also monthly passes available.


Saratoga’s Kids Castle is located at 26B Congress Plaza in Saratoga Springs. For more information please visit saratogaskidscastle.com/

Thursday, 23 July 2015 16:07

3D Technology Comes to Grant Cottage

WILTON – This week, 3D scans were taken to make exact three dimensional measurements of Grant Cottage. Grant Cottage is currently applying for historic landmark status with the National Parks Department and the measurements taken will be a part of the application.

Dr. Michael “Bodhi” Rogers Ph.D., a professor of physics at Ithaca College, was accompanied by Scott Stull Ph.D. from SUNY Cortland and several students as he scanned the cottage with a Leical C-10 3D laser scanner. They recently scanned Lincoln Cottage in Washington, D.C. using the same technology.

This scanner works by sending out a pulsing laser that can take up to 50,000 readings per second. However, technology is moving fast. Though the 3D scanner used at Grant Cottage is only three years old, there are already new scanners out that can take up to a million readings every second.

The 3D scanning process involves three steps. First, a context scan is taken in low resolution that can scan 360 degrees around and 270 degrees in an arc above the scanner. Then, photos are taken to ensure the scan is finished as close to the real color of Grant Cottage as possible. Lastly, a high resolution scan is done that takes measurements of the building every five millimeters. This process is done eight times and each time the scanner is moved to a new location around the cottage.

President of Grant Cottage, Tim Welch, has hopes that this scanning will benefit Grant Cottage in many ways.

“Technically if Grant Cottage ever burned down, we would have measurements for an exact replica to be made,” Welch says. “I’m also hoping to turn the 3D scans into a virtual tour we may have on our website.”

Furthermore, 3D scans would be useful in making any necessary repairs to the cottage. They could also be used to make a physical model for historical preservation.

This Saturday, July 25 marks the 130th anniversary of Ulysses S. Grant’s passing. To commemorate this event, there will be music and re-enactors that will recreate Grant’s family circle on the porch of Grant Cottage to share stories and memories of his life.

Grant Cottage will also be showing clips of D.W Griffith’s film “A Birth of a Nation” on July 31, beginning at dusk. This film was selected to spark a discussion about the racial violence in the film, violence Grant fought against during his lifetime.


For more information please visit GrantCottage.org or call 518-584-4353. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Adirondack Shakespeare Company will be performing two of the Bard’s comedies at the National Museum of Dance as part of their summer festival season. “The Merry Wives of Windsor” will be performed on Sunday, July 26 and “As You Like It” will be performed on Sunday, August 2. Both shows will start at 3 p.m.

The mission of the Adirondack Shakespeare Company is to produce exceptional plays without the added distractions of gaudy costumes and over-the-top sets. The focus is on the words of the play itself and how the actors decide to convey the story to the audience. 

“My favorite part about doing these plays is the genuine connection you build with the audience,” said Tara Bradway, artistic director at the company. “The simple props and costumes allow the audience’s imagination to take hold. Nothing gets in the way so they can enjoy the beauty of the language. We make our plays accessible and easily understood.”

Though you may see a wooden dowel instead of a sword, the Adirondack Shakespeare Company shows what really matters: the heart of the story.

The actors also get a lot of creative freedom with their characters and how they present them. Katie Fanning, who is playing Rosalind in “As You Like It” is excited about the possibilities for these plays.

“The best thing is that in the whole range of characters, you can explore who you are and who you want to be on stage,” said Fanning. “It’s a dream as an actor, to be free to make your own choices. It's like a playground and every performance is different.”

Without strict directions, the independence of the actors allows them to play with the script. What is impressive is that the actors have two months to prepare on their own after casting but only 15 hours of rehearsal together before the show goes on.

“We have a professional cast that is so talented at what they do,” said Bradway. “They deliver these plays exquisitely.”

Tickets to these shows are $20 for adults, $17 for students, seniors and veterans, and free for children 12 and under. Those who arrive early to the plays will get to see a 15 minute long live musical performance from the actors. Actors choose the songs based on their characters and the play itself. There will also be musical performances during intermission. The National Museum of Dance is located at 99 S. Broadway in Saratoga Springs.


For more information please visit adkshakes.org. 

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