Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Friends helping friends

San Francisco ballet is a Sun Valley coup

Express Staff Writer

San Francisco Ballet’s Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimets perform “The Dance House”by David Bintley. Courtesy photo San Francisco Ballet by Erik Tomasson

In the arts world, there are many unmet dreams. That of Ketchum resident Dan Drackett to bring the San Francisco Ballet to Sun Valley was one that for a long time was just out of reach. Until now.

"We've been trying to pull it together for many years," said Drackett, who took a call for an interview while taking his 102-year-old mother out to dinner in Naples, Fla.

That's what a big deal this is.

Or, maybe it's the fact that Sun Valley is a whistle stop on a summer/fall tour that the oldest professional ballet company in America is making at venues such as the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, the Hamburg State Opera House and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

"That's the real story," he said. "It's a real feather in our cap and opens the door to other wonderful possibilities."

Either way, it's a coup for valley residents, and one that could have long-range implications.

For the ballet, this is just one in a long and rich tradition of artistic firsts that have included performing the first American productions of "Swan Lake" and the "Nutcracker." The multi-award-winning company, under the direction of Helgi Tomasson for the past two decades, has an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world.

For Sun Valley, it's a chance to show off its natural beauty, laid-back lifestyle and world-class outdoor pavilion. Flanked by the snow-capped mountains and framed by the deep blue of an Idaho summer sky, the pavilion provides seating for nearly 4,000 people, between the seats and the lawn, which is served by a large outdoor screen.

The performance also kicks off a summer of arts with weeks of free performances by the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, music performances and events sponsored by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and the Sun Valley Writers' Conference in late August.

"I'm so pleased that San Francisco Ballet has an opportunity to perform in Sun Valley for the first time," Tomasson said in a press release. "I've chosen a diverse array of works that I know the Sun Valley audience will enjoy and that I believe showcase the talent and depth of the company artists."

The performance will include Tomasson's "7 for Eight," set to Johann Sebastian Bach; a contemporary pas de deux, or dance for two, from William Forsythe's "In the middle, somewhat elevated;" a pas de deux from David Bintley's "The Dance House" set to Dmitri Shostakovich's first piano concerto; Hans van Manen's "Solo" set to Bach with three male dancers; a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon's innovatively choreographed "After the Rain;" and a pas de deux from "Don Quixote, Act III."

The Sun Valley Resort has stepped up with accommodations for the company and orchestra musicians. Drackett said arrangements are being made to ensure that the stage is top notch.

"In order for stage to be springy enough for them, they will have special carpentry work done," he said. "We're doing everything we can to make it safe and happy for them."

And it all came about through a conversation between Drackett, Chair of the Sponsors' Committee for San Francisco Ballet in Sun Valley and a trustee connected to the San Francisco ballet.

The visit is being made possible by ticket revenue, sponsors and donors, with any money left over being distributed among local charitable foundations, he said.

Drackett added that efforts are being forged to ensure interaction between the San Francisco Ballet and local ballet groups and students. In a perfect dream come true, he said, the San Francisco Ballet will consider Sun Valley a tour stop at least once every few years, if not a summer home away from home.

"If it's a runaway hit, certainly it will make it more enticing for them to come back," he said. "But we don't want to dream too big—their coming here at all is an extraordinary opportunity for all involved."

San Francisco Ballet

When: Sunday, July 8, 7 p.m.

Where: Sun Valley Pavilion.

Tickets: or 721-3362. For sale now, tickets range in price range from $25 to $500. Sponsor packages are available starting at $2,500 and include premium seats, a private dinner with the dancers, a cocktail reception and recognition in the program.

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