People often wonder what distinguishes the Wood River Valley from all the other great mountain resort communities in America. The answer is pretty simple: It’s our world-class arts and cultural scenes.

            Yes, we have some of the best hiking, mountain biking and skiing trails on the planet and lots of mouth-watering places to eat and drink. But what really makes us special is our passion and support for the arts. And Ballet Sun Valley is the perfect example.

            Bob Smelick is the founder of Ballet Sun Valley. The Bay Area native has had a second home in Sun Valley for 30 years and has always felt very connected to our community. Bob has also long been a member of the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Ballet.

            It was during opening night at the Sun Valley Pavilion that Bob was inspired to found Ballet Sun Valley.  The venue reminded him of seeing the San Francisco Ballet during a tour of France.

            “It’s so impressive to see ballet in such a natural setting and the Pavilion is an absolutely beautiful venue for the art form,” Bob said.

           In 2012, Ballet Sun Valley was founded with the mission of brining the best ballet companies in the world to Sun Valley. Thanks to support from local groups like the Footlight Dance Centre, Sun Valley Ballet, the Sun Valley Resort and the Limelight Hotel, the non-profit has been fulfilling its mission ever since, but this year is promising to be the best yet.

            There are three parts to this year’s programming. The first is the return of the San Francisco Ballet to the heart of Idaho.  Two completely different performances will be held on July 5th and 7th, respectively, at the Sun Valley Pavilion. An astounding 38 ballerinas will perform the distinct shows, including one that has only been seen in a couple of the most famous venues on the planet—something Sun Valley is shaping up to become.

            “These are more like the types of performances you’d see at places like the Kennedy Center or Sadler’s Wells in London, “ Bob said. “It’s going to be pretty spectacular and a real gift to the community.”

            But the gifts for the community don’t just stop at the performances. Three days of educational programming have been scheduled as well.  Over 100 students from about a dozen states have signed up for the free classes.

            Ballet Sun Valley is also excited to announce that it has teamed up Boston Ballet to bring an Adaptive Dance program to Idaho. It will teach educators and team members from places like Higher Ground how to use ballet as therapy for challenged students and adults.

            “Our intention is to make a positive impact on the community and the state, “ Bob said.  Ballet Sun Valley is certainly “en pointe!”

-By Mike McKenna

The Chamber Corner appears each Wednesday in the Weekly Sun.

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