SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After 37 years of traveling to Saratoga Springs with the New York City Ballet, Chris Robinson has his job down pat.
“Oh I love it, it is one of my favorite times of the year for sure,” Robinson said Tuesday morning. “It’s not hard, it is just time consuming. The heat doesn’t help, you know, but it is summertime so it is what it is.”
An assistant electrician, Robinson is one of more than 50 crew members working long hours to set up the Saratoga Performing Arts Center stage before the ballet's first performance next Tuesday night.
“We are building the bridge, this is the downstage bridge,” Robinson explained as he mounted a heavy piece of equipment to the steel support structure. “We hang a bunch of lights off of it, as you can see."
“The backstage has its own choreography,” said Marguerite Mehler, the New York City Ballet’s director of production. “There is a lot of scenery and there are a lot of people and there are a lot of costumes and it all has to happen in a very timely, fast and efficient manner.”
Arriving Monday, seven tractor trailers of electrical equipment, costumes, shoes and other gear are needed for the week's worth of shows.
“It’s a lot of planning before we even load the trucks in New York and start to come here,” said Mehler, who’s been with the ballet for 23 years. “It is weeks and weeks of planning and discussions and organization."
Despite the large task at hand, the men and women like Robinson who make it all come together view it as a labor of love.
“There is an immense sense of pride,” Mehler said. “We are here to make the New York City Ballet look good and we are here to support the dancers."
“These young kids work very hard, so the satisfaction for me is they do their best so I have to do my best," Robinson said.