Unless you've been living under a rock, chances are that you experienced the eclipse-mania that took over the country yesterday. Thousands flocked to the 70-mile-wide path of totality (the path of the moon's shadow), which stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. And dancers were no exception. Ballet stars across the country flooded Instagram with their sense of awe over this once-in-a-decade event.
Ballet Sun Valley, the two-day festival starting today curated by Isabella Boylston, were lucky enough to be on the path of totality (in fact, Gemma Bond's new ballet for the festival was inspired by the eclipse). We love seeing dancers from different companies hanging out, and Tiler Peck posted this New York City Ballet/American Ballet Theatre crossover moment.
With most of American Ballet Theatre's classical repertoire under her belt, principal Isabella Boylston is ready for a new challenge, specifically, launching Ballet Sun Valley, a dance festival with educational outreach in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho. "I'm in a place in my career where I can expend a little more creative energy on outside projects," she says. This year, her long-held dream will become reality, with performances on August 22 and 24, and free dance classes on August 23. "Sun Valley has a successful symphony, and a lot of people are interested in the arts," Boylston says. "When I was there three years ago, I realized the Sun Valley Pavilion would be the perfect venue for dance." Hilarie Neely, Boylston's first ballet teacher, put her in touch with a team of executive producers who have assisted with fundraising and technical logistics.
Once Boylston knew the festival was happening, she was faced with the task of creating dynamic programming. "All the dancers I'm inviting are close friends who I've danced with before, and choreographers I have relationships with," she says. Audiences can expect classical repertoire, plus ballets by Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and Pontus Lidberg.
Isabella Boylston is having quite the year. When she's not dazzling audiences at American Ballet Theatre, she's been preparing to take over the silver screen as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in Red Sparrow. Now, it looks like her summer plans will keep her just as busy.
According to The New York Times, Boylston will curate a show of her own this August, in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho. The three-day event, called Ballet Sun Valley, will feature performances, and free dance classes for children. Boylston told the Times that it's something she's always wanted to do, and she hopes to make it an annual event.
No word yet on which dancers are participating, but it sounds like we can expect some major star power: they'll come from companies like ABT, New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet and the Mariinsky Ballet.
The program itself sounds promising too, with works by George Balanchine, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon and Justin Peck. Plus, Boylston commissioned a world premiere by ABT corps dancer Gemma Bond (who's become a choreographer-to-watch in recent years), inspired by the solar eclipse that will happen in the area during the festival.
Boylston's ambitions also reflect a larger trend. Lately, more and more pros are taking on leadership roles and developing their own projects during the off-season—like Daniel Ulbricht's Dance Against Cancer benefits, or John Welker's Wabi Sabi program for Atlanta Ballet dancers. They're pursuing work that excites them, fighting for causes they believe in and taking their careers into their own hands—and that's inspiring for all of us.