Dance in the Mountains: From Classical to Cutting Edge

Sun Valley’s arts and culture scene used to be one of its best-kept secrets, but the word is starting to get out…and we couldn’t be happier about that. From venues like the Argyros Performing Arts Center and the Sun Valley Pavilion to festivals like the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ Summer Concert series and Ballet Sun Valley, the Sun Valley area offers plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the performing arts.

While music and theater have been a mainstay of the Sun Valley cultural scene for years, the opportunity to see professional dance used to be sporadic at best. But we’re happy to say that those days are long gone. Whether you’re in the mood for classical ballet or the cutting edge of choreography, you’ll find it here.

Ballet Sun Valley

The Sun Valley Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater in Sun Valley’s village, was designed for live music. But a few pioneering individuals saw that the setting—with its open-air seating, stunning architecture, and undeniably magical ambiance—would be perfect for dance. 

San Francisco Ballet - Argyros - Ketchum, Idaho
Choreographer: Trey McIntyre
Pictured: San Francisco Ballet dancers
Photo Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet © Erik Tomasson

In 2009, the Trey McIntyre Company, the former Boise-based contemporary dance company led by choreographer Trey McIntyre, performed a two-night engagement at the Pavilion. The company set the standard, showcasing what could be done with beautiful dancers in a beautiful space.

Choreographer: Stanton Welch
Pictured: San Francisco Ballet dancers Jennifer Stahl and Carlos Di Lanno
Photo Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet © Erik Tomasson

Three years later, when Ballet Sun Valley hosted the San Francisco Ballet at the Sun Valley Pavilion, we weren’t quite sure what hit us, but we knew it was good. On a golden summer evening, a sold-out crowd watched classical and contemporary works performed by one of the best ballet companies in the world.

The overwhelmingly positive response to that evening of ballet made it clear: we wanted more. Since then, Ballet Sun Valley has produced two independent dancer festivals under the artistic direction of Isabella Boylston, a Sun Valley native and principal the American Ballet Theatre in New York. This year, Ballet Sun Valley welcomes back Helgi Tomasson and the San Francisco Ballet to the Pavilion on July 5 & 7, 2019.

The Argyros Presents

The Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum has been making waves since it opened in November 2018. Patrons rave about the striking main theater and its state-of-the-art Meyers Constellation Sound System, but there’s a hidden feature that is fostering a new wave of dance programming: the area’s first permanent sprung floor in a performance venue. A sprung floor, which absorbs shock, is a must-have for hosting professional dance companies, and the floor at the Argyros opens the door to year-round dance in Sun Valley.

Photo: Sara Sheehy

The Argyros featured local dance companies during their opening weekend, setting the tone for a future that is rich with dance. In late 2018, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts hosted Boise’s LED, a dance company that combines movement, original music, and film into a cinematic experience, on the Argyros’ stage.

The Argyros Presents, which is the performing arts center’s own line of programming, continues to host a wide variety of dance companies, from classical to cutting edge. Performances include Isabella & Friends ‘When I Think of You’ featuring Isabella Boylston and music star Rozzi, OCD/Dance on Tour, and MacArthur Genius Award winner Dorrance Dance: SOUNDspace. In addition, the Sun Valley Ballet Foundation, which supports the local Sun Valley Ballet School, hosted Ballet Idaho in “A Season of Ballet” at the Argyros in May 2019.

The future of dance in this mountain town is bright, and we’re so ready for it.

Here in Sun Valley, we love being a surprise. Whether it is our great restaurants, our 400 miles of single-track, or the chance to experience some of the world’s premier dance companies, there’s something new around every corner. It’s what we’re made of. Are you ready?