San Francisco Ballet wows Sun Valley

Crowds arriving at the Sun Valley Pavilion to see the San Francisco Ballet perform

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:


Spotted: Tired ballerinas finally arriving in Sun Valley after their bus broke down in the middle of rural Idaho.

  • 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.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Meeting Maria – A Prima Ballerina in Sun Valley

There’s a new girl in town, and she’s pretty hot stuff.

To help get the Wood River Valley excited for the San Francisco Ballet performance here next month, the talented Maria Kochetkova, Principal Dancer with the ballet, has been making guest appearances all around town. Baby Sun and I went up to the Sun Valley Club last week to get up close and personal with the prima ballerina.

Baby Sun was enamored by the beautiful Maria Kochetkova

Okay, okay, so she’s not the real thing, but it was still a lot of fun to hang out with her, not to mention a great photo op (which would have been better if I could have convinced Baby Sun to stand still…).

This is the first time the ballet will be performing in Sun Valley. America’s oldest professional ballet company is squeezing in a stop in the Rockies between their Moscow and London engagements as part of its 2012 tour. It’s also the first time carbon copies of its beautiful creatures will be gracing the streets of a city.

Dan Drackett, Chair of the Sponsors’ Committee for San Francisco Ballet in Sun Valley, and his long-time friend Robert Smelick, vice chair of the San Francisco Ballet Association, came up with the idea for the cardboard ballerina when they were perusing the giant posters they had made to promote the event.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have life-size cutouts made and put them all around town?” he said. The Ballet agreed and since last week Maria has popped up at The Christy, Zenergy and The Sun Valley Club. This weekend she’ll be hanging out at River Run. If anyone would like to invite her to come to their pad, post a comment below and we’ll see what we can do.

Maria herself was quite surprised to hear she was already in Sun Valley. I tweeted her my picture of Baby Sun cozying up to her and she responded with a “That’s amazing!” – promptly posting the picture to her instagram account saying “Apparently there is fake Masha living in Sun Valley.”

However, the future of her clone is uncertain. Dan Drackett said they are thinking about having the company sign the replica and then gifting it to a local non-profit. “But if people have ideas, we’re open to them,” he said. (Post any below and we’ll pass them on).

But more importantly, the Russian dancer will surely be a spectacular sight in the flesh. Maria has graced the stage in the title role of Gisele, as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Kitri in Don Quixote and Juliet in Romeo & Juliet to name just a few.

Catch a sneak peek of her in action in this San Francisco Ballet video (where she also talks about returning home to Moscow as part of this tour), before she and her company hit the special springy stage at the Sun Valley Pavilion for one night only on July 8.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: San Francisco Ballet performs at the Sun Valley Pavilion Sunday evening, July 8. Available tickets range from $25 to $250. Special packages including one night’s lodging and two tickets for $184.50 per person are also available. Call 800.786.8259 or click here to buy tickets

2012 San Francisco Ballet

2012 San Francisco Ballet

July 8th, 7:30 pm

Sun Valley Pavilion

Tickets are on sale now for the San Francisco Ballet coming to the Sun Valley Pavilion on July 8th, 2012 in Sun Valley, ID.

San Francisco Ballet’s summer/fall tour includes this Sun Valley performance as well as dates at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Sadler’s Wells Theater in London, the Hamburg State Opera House, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  San Francisco Ballet’s summer/fall tour includes a one-night-only performance at the spectacular Sun Valley Pavilion in Sun Valley, Idaho.

**Sun Valley Resort is the Official Lodging Sponsor of the San Francisco Ballet.  For Special Saturday and Sunday night lodging rates please call 800.786.825.  Mention the Ballet for the special rate.

Tickets for this amazing performance are now on sale.

Click here for more information on the San Francisco Ballet or email your inquiries locally

Call 415.865.2000 to reserve your seats today!