New York City Ballet performing Balanchine classic Who Cares?Saratoga Springs, N.Y. - New York City Ballet, one of the world's foremost dance companies, will present a diverse repertory of 14 stunning ballets during its 2014 summer season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC),  July 8 - 12.  Showcased during the residency will be iconic works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as contemporary ballets by acclaimed 21st century choreographers including Peter Martins, Mauro Bigonzetti, Justin Peck, Angelin Preljocaj, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon. Highlights of the program include the Saratoga premiere of the newest collaboration from Justin Peck and Sufjan Stevens; a Gala tribute to Great Britain featuring the Saratoga premiere of Liam Scarlett's Acheron; the return of several ballets not seen at SPAC in many years including Preljocaj's La Stravaganza, Bigonzetti's Vespro, Balanchine's Raymonda Variations and Robbins's Glass Pieces.   "New York City Ballet's unparalleled commitment to new choreography will take center stage at SPAC this summer as the company presents a gorgeous program that intertwines classics by Balanchine and Robbins with modern day masterworks by a range of contemporary choreographers, both emerging and established," said Marcia J. White, SPAC's President and Executive Director.  "The breadth and brilliance of this program is quintessential New York City Ballet," she added. "Nearly 50 years after our Opening Season, it remains a tremendous privilege for SPAC to host this revered company on our summer stage; we are looking forward to an extraordinary 2014." Opening Night: Balanchine's Journey New York City Ballet opens its 48th season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 8 with a tribute to the company's legendary co-founder George Balanchine, in recognition of the 110th  Anniversary of his birth.  Balanchine, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on January 22, 1904, will be celebrated in a program that reflects the varying influences on his artistic life, from his formative years in his native Russia, to his early years as a choreographer with the Ballet Russes in Paris, to his 1933 arrival in America. Among the works on the program are RAYMONDA VARIATIONS, Balanchine's 20th-century tribute to 19th-century classicism, last seen at SPAC in 2007. Set to Glazunov's music for Petipa's full-length narrative ballet Raymonda, Balanchine's version remains true to the spirit of the original while distilling the ballet to a pure-dance work. Balanchine's WALPURGISNACHT BALLET and THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER, each created in 1975, also highlight the program. Walpurgisnacht Ballet,  choreographed by Balanchine for a production of Faust by the Théâtre National de l'Opéra and the Paris Opéra Ballet, is an elegant, plotless work set to a passionate score by Gounod. The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a beloved work about a romance between a paper doll and a toy soldier based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, returns to SPAC which commissioned the work in 1975.  The work is one of seven NYCB ballets that have debuted on SPAC's stage since 1966.   The tribute ends with Balanchine's WHO CARES?, set to a medley of songs by legendary composer George Gershwin.  Last seen at SPAC in 2010, the ballet celebrates Manhattan and the exuberance of city life. The production will feature new costumes created in 2013 by Tony Award-winning designer Santo Loquasto, the designer's first for a Balanchine work in the NYCB repertory. The original production of Who Cares? which premiered on February 5, 1970, featured costumes designed by Karinska which were replaced in 1983 with costumes designed by Ben Benson. The Ballet Gala: A Tribute to Great Britain The culmination of the Ballet's Saratoga program will be the annual Ballet Gala on Saturday, July 12, a celebration of the partnership between SPAC and NYCB and the primary fundraiser for the residency.  Elegant parties in the Hall of Springs and on the lawn complement the centerpiece of the evening: a spectacular one-time-only program of New York City Ballet classics and premieres.  This year's Gala theme - A Tribute to Great Britain - finds inspiration in the new generation of British choreographers who are influencing contemporary ballet and in Union Jack, Balanchine's famous work celebrating the British cultural heritage. Making its Saratoga Premiere at the Gala will be ACHERON, a new ballet by Liam Scarlett which had its World Premiere in New York on January 31, 2014.  Set to a score by Poulenc and featuring costumes that were also designed by the choreographer, the work is Scarlett's first for NYCB. The young British choreographer is currently the Artist in Residence for London's Royal Ballet. Also sharing the bill for the Gala program is Christopher Wheeldon's poignant AFTER THE RAIN pas de deux. Set to a score by Arvo Pärt, the duet has become one of the most widely performed ballets by a contemporary choreographer. The evening culminates with a performance of Balanchine's UNION JACK, a work created in 1976 to honor the British heritage of the United States on the occasion of its Bicentennial. Set to a score by Hershy Kay, the beloved work features a set of dances inspired by Scottish military tattoos and concludes with a dazzling cast of 74 dancers.  The work was last performed at SPAC in 2005. NYCB's Festival of 21st Century Choreographers New York City Ballet will showcase for Saratoga audiences highlights of its spring Festival of 21st Century Choreographers.  The celebration is designed to encompass both the established voices who ushered ballet into the 21st Century as well as the field's emerging talents.  Marking its debut at SPAC on July 10 will be Peter Martins's TODO BUENOS AIRES, a work originally premiered in 2000 and then expanded and re-choreographed for the 2005 season. Set to an arrangement of Piazzolla tangos for chamber orchestra, including La Mufa and Todo Buenos Aires, the work offers different interpretations of the tango. Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti's 2002 work VESPRO makes a return to SPAC's stage in 2014, its first appearance since 2002.  Set to music by Bruno Moretti, the Diamond Project work features 13 dancers in geometric costumes who navigate around two musicians and a singer placed center stage. Angelin Preljocaj's LA STRAVAGANZA, another Diamond Project work which premiered in 1997, features an ensemble of 12 dancers. The work by the French choreographer juxtaposes 17th-century sensibility with modern culture against a backdrop of contrasting classical and electronic accompaniment. Returning to SPAC's stage after its Gala premiere last season is Christopher Wheeldon's pas de deux THIS BITTER EARTH. Set to Max Richter's version of Dinah Washington's 1960 rhythm and blues song of the same name, the work is excerpted from Wheeldon's Five Movements, Three Repeats. New Collaboration from Justin Peck and Sufjan Stevens A major highlight of the season will be the Saratoga premiere of a new collaboration from choreographer and NYCB Soloist Justin Peck and American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens.  The project will be the second for Peck and Stevens, who previously collaborated on the acclaimed Year of the Rabbit which premiered in 2012. Stevens' score was commissioned for the work, which also features costumes by Janie Taylor, who retired as an NYCB principal dancer on March 1. At just 26 years old, Peck has received an unprecedented six commissions from NYCB in less than two years, beginning with In Creases which had its world premiere at SPAC in July 2012, followed by Year of the Rabbit (Oct 2012), Paz de la Jolla (Jan 2013), Take-Offs and Landings (NYCB Moves, Aug 2013) and Capricious Maneuvers (Sept 2013). His newest work will premiere at the company's 2014 Spring Gala in New York on May 8. It will be performed at SPAC three times during the residency: July 9, 10 and 12 (matinee). Jerome Robbins Also highlighting the season will be two ballets by Jerome Robbins, the legendary co-founding choreographer of New York City Ballet. Programs on July 9 and 11 will feature Robbins's masterpiece GLASS PIECES.  A ballet set to three works by American minimalist composer Philip Glass, the work is a tour de force for 42 dancers. Robbins's enchanting CIRCUS POLKA featuring a ringmaster and 48 young dancers highlights matinees on July 10 and 12. The work is set to Stravinsky's Circus Polka which he composed for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1942. Ticket prices for SPAC's NYCB performances start at $24 for lawn seats; inside seating ranges from $32 to $85. The Kids in Free program entitles children 12 and under to free lawn admission for NYCB  performances.  The Student Discount program allows students of all ages to purchase tickets at a 25 percent discount. Tickets to NYCB and SPAC's classical season go on sale online at spac.org on February 25 for members and March 18 for the general public.  Box Office and phone sales begin on May 15. About Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saratoga Performing Arts Center, located in the historic resort town of Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, has established a reputation as one of America's most prestigious summer festivals. Its tranquil setting in a 2,400-acre park preserve surrounded by hiking trails, geysers, and natural mineral springs draws vacation crowds and arts connoisseurs each year to its summer programming, which includes summer residencies by New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The 2014 summer season will also include engagements by the Bolshoi Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company and MOMIX, concerts by Live Nation and productions by Opera Saratoga.  The final curtain of the SPAC season comes down in early September with the annual Saratoga Wine and Food Festival, one of the fastest-growing wine and food events in the nation.  Information and tickets are available at spac.org
Tuesday, July 8 OPENING NIGHT: BALACHINE'S JOURNEY Russia, Europe, America (110th Birthday)Raymonda Variations (Glazunov/Balanchine) Steadfast Tin Soldier (Bizet/Balanchine) Walpurgisnacht Ballet (Gounod/Balanchine) Who Cares? (Gershwin, adapt. & orch. by  Kay/Balanchine)

Wednesday July 9

ALL AMERICAN Who Cares? (Gershwin, adapt. & orch. by Kay/ Balanchine) New Stevens/Peck Glass Pieces (Glass/Robbins) American Girl Night
Thursday, July 10(2 p.m. matinee)MIXED REPERTOIRECircus Polka (Stravinsky/Robbins) Walpurgisnacht Ballet (Gounod/Balanchine) New Stevens/Peck Who Cares? (Gershwin, adapt. & orch. by Kay/ Balanchine)

Thursday July 10

4 CONTEMPORARY CHAMBER WORKS Vespro (Moretti/Bigonzetti) This Bitter Earth (Washington &   Richter/Wheeldon) Todo Buenos Aires (Piazzolla, arr. by Wasserman/ Martins) La Stravaganza (Vivaldi, Ficarra, Normandeau, Morand, Parmerud/Preljocaj) Date Night
Friday July 11 MIXED REPERTOIRERaymonda Variations (Glazunov/Balanchine)La Stravaganza (Vivaldi, Ficarra, Normandeau, Morand,Parmerud/Preljocaj) Glass Pieces (Glass/Robbins) CDPHP's Family Night

Saturday July 12

(2 p.m. matinee)

MIXED REPERTOIRE Steadfast Tin Soldier (Bizet/Balanchine) Walpurgisnacht Ballet (Gounod/Balanchine) Circus Polka (Stravinsky/Robbins) This Bitter Earth (Washington & Richter/Wheeldon) Todo Buenos Aires (Piazzolla, arr. by  Wasserman/  Martins) New Stevens/Peck
Saturday July 12THE BALLET GALA: TRIBUTE TO GREAT BRITAINAcheron (New Poulenc/Scarlett)After the Rain (Pärt/Wheeldon) Union Jack (British sources, adapt. by Kay/Balanchine) Fireworks Finale