It’s pretty hard to impress the people of Sun Valley. When you live in a town that is regularly entertained by world class symphony musicians, lectured to by Pulitzer-prize winning authors and wowed by Oscar-winning actresses, even the Bolshoi can seem blasé. Well, that was not the case last night, when the San Francisco Ballet rolled into town for a one-night only performance.
The Sun Valley Pavilion was buzzing as the crowds arrived on Ketchum-time (meaning 20 minutes late), and although they delayed the dancers, the attendees made up for it by turning out in their finery (remarkable considering I’ve seen people wear bike shorts to a wedding).
It was, as I overheard one lady say, “The official start to the Sun Valley social season.” There was a lot of air-kissing and exclaiming over how wonderful your dress is, and what a fabulous summer it will be. But once everyone settled and the music began, a reverent hush took hold replaced promptly by gasps of wonder as the beautiful ballerinas finally claimed the stage.
I am not a ballet aficionado, and so won’t attempt a review of the performance (my limited experience with this art form includes sleeping through Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells – I was 12, and the Sun Valley Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker, which is not quite in the same league). But watching arguably the best ballerinas in the country perform in an intimate yet spectacular (if a little windy and wet at times) setting, was an enchanting experience. The delicate dancers magically filled the empty stage, gliding and whirling in perfect synchronicity. With footsteps barely registering on the special springy stage, pliés and relevés won the hearts of the Sun Valley audience.
The physiques were as mesmerizing as the moves. Toned and tiny ladies appeared to be as light as feathers, while the sculpted muscles of the male dancers looked like David had come to life. In Solo, one of the seven dances the company performed, the three male performers provoked enchanting giggles from the young girls sitting next to me, one actually fell off her chair at the sight of such clearly visible muscular beauty.
After a resounding standing ovation, the audience left elated. Comments bouncing around the auditorium included “That was fantastic,” “What a delight,” and “Awesome.” While the dancers can leave Sun Valley knowing they have a legion of new fans, Sun Valley can wave goodbye to the ballet with the knowledge that it too has gained new admirers, who expressed a wish to return.
Unsurprisingly for a ballet headquartered in the tech hub of the country, the San Francisco Ballet is well-represented on social media, and the dancers broadcast highlights of their six days in the valley on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
A quick scroll through the public social media feeds of a handful of the dancers provides a glimpse of the activities the ballet indulged in during its free time. I’ve collected some of their posts on this Storify , but here’s a quick run-down of their time in the valley from their public feeds:
- Despite their bus from Boise breaking down on Wednesday, leaving a company of ballerinas stranded on the side of Highway 20, the dancers appear to have made the most of their Sun Valley sojourn. Principal dancer Joan Boada posted a snap of the tasty filet mignon and Idaho spud he enjoyed at the Pioneer Saloon, as well as a frosty beer with a view of Baldy at the Sun Valley Wine Company.
- Garen Scribner (@garen) took in a round of golf, and was highly amused by the makeshift practice room set up for them in Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, practising in a ski school was apparently a new experience for the soloist.
- Edward King, British filmmaker and husband of principal dancer Maria Kochetkova (@balletrusse), snapped some shots of the Fourth of July fireworks over the Lodge, and ventured out to Trail Creek Cabin with his wife, joking that she was “scaring away all the wildlife with her [bright red] shorts.”
- Maria was the most prolific in her posting, showing followers images of her visiting Hemingway Memorial, enjoying a game at the Sun Valley bowling alley, feeding the swans at the Lodge pond, and posing with her “mini me” – the promotional cut-out of the ballerina that has been touring town in anticipation of the ballet’s arrival.
Sunday night, an hour after they left the stage to thunderous applause, Maria tweeted “@SunValleyResort we loved it here and the audience was amazing! I hope to come back next year!”
We hope they do too.