Idaho’s Ballet Sun Valley Festival Is Back With an Expanded Season

July 8, 2021

Ballet Sun Valley, the annual dance festival in scenic Sun Valley, Idaho, is back in full force with an expanded summer season this year. Held outdoors at the Sun Valley Pavilion, the first part of the festival runs July 12–13 and features dancers from San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Washington Ballet. Then, BalletX takes the stage August 22–23, making its Ballet Sun Valley debut.

The July performances feature two programs with a curated mix of classical and contemporary repertoire. Independent, freelance dancers include NYCB’s Indiana Woodward, SFB’s Sasha De Sola and Aaron Robison, PNB’s Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan and Kyle Davis, Houston Ballet’s Karina González, The Washington Ballet’s Katherine Barkman and more. The weekend will be highlighted by two world premieres: Price Suddarth’s Reverie, starring PNB dancers Leah Terada and Miles Pertl, and Viktor Plotnikov’s The Last Note, performed by SFB principals Misa Kuranaga and Angelo Greco. PNB also presents the live performance premiere of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Future Memory and Edwaard Liang’s The Veil Between Worlds; both pieces have only been seen virtually to date. Performances also include an excerpt from George Balanchine’s “Diamonds,” the Diana and Actaeon pas de deux and Kyle Davis’ La Luna.

BalletX opens Ballet Sun Valley’s second festival on August 22 with Sunset, o639 Hours, a full-length contemporary ballet produced by company co-founder Matthew Neenan and New Zealand composer Rosie Langabeer. Set in pre–World War II New Zealand, Samoa and Hawaii, the ballet shares the true story of pilot Edwin Musick’s 1938 airmail flight across the Pacific. The company then presents a gala performance on August 23 featuring selections of BalletX repertory, including Nicolo Fonte’s Steep Drop, Euphoric and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s Hernando’s Hideaway, among others.

On a dark stage, a group of brightly costumed male and female dancers make various energetic poses along a thin, gray banner across the floor. A bright light spotlights the dancers.
BalletX in Nicolo Fonte’s “Steep Drop, Euphoric.” Vikki Sloviter, Courtesy Ballet Sun Valley

For most of the festival artists, this will mark their first live performances since March of 2020. “After the year we’ve had, it’s going to be such a good welcome back to the stage with all the other dancers,” says Woodward, an NYCB soloist, who is thrilled to return to in-person shows after a season of digital performing. She and fellow soloist Harrison Coll will dance the live premiere of Nocturne, choreographed by NYCB dancer Laine Habony. The ballet’s initial development was supported by NYCB’s First Steps.

Ballet Sun Valley is also offering a free, three-day training program to coincide with the July festival. Students will have the opportunity to work with distinguished dancers and faculty from SFB and PNB, in addition to tickets to the performances on July 12 and 13.

“My favorite part of any gala is the people,” says Woodward. “Our worlds are so connected, but we don’t always get the opportunity to make personal relationships with each other. We’re all more powerful as one unit⁠—when we can share our creativity with each other and the communities around us.”