Brush strokes on Broadway

Dancers, painters, musicians, writers and actors from around the world made their way Saratoga Springs this past weekend for the second SaratogaArtsFest, the showcase of culture held throughout the city.

The festival, which included a variety of art encompassing the entire creative community, ran from Friday, June 13, through Sunday, June 15.

[The ArtsFest] was started by various people in the community including local civic and political representatives, people from Skidmore College and people from major arts organizations, all of whom felt Saratoga had enough arts and cultural attractions to support an event of this nature, said Deborah Miles Czech, a member of the festival's board of directors and one of the primary organizers. "Last year, they formed an organization committee and, with wide-ranging volunteers, they put together SaratogaArtsFest. This year, we've expanded considerably."

The festival featured several primary attractions from all over the spectrum of art. On Friday, the Martha Graham Dance Company, one of the nation's longest-running and most-established dance organizations, gave a performance at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Also, popular jazz pianist Gerald Clayton gave a performance at the Universal Preservation Hall. Clayton, at 23 years old, has already performed at Steinway Hall in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and won second place in the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Piano Competition.

Saturday featured more unique performances, as acrobatics group, Wire Monkey Dance, which uses platforms and scaffolds to provide mesmerizing, circus-like performances, gave a show at Universal Preservation Hall. Also, Sara Gruen, the New York Times-bestselling author of "Water for Elephants," "Riding Lessons," and "Flying Changes," as well as author of the upcoming "Ape House," gave a lecture and book signing at the Payne Room of Tang Museum at Skidmore College.

Sunday closed the event with several major performances, including one by highly lauded troupe The Equus Projects: Dancing With Horses, at Saratoga Polo Grounds. The troupe mixes dance with equestrian stuntwork, creating an eclectic fusion of human and equine choreography. In addition, a cappella group, the Bobs, gave a performance at Saratoga Music Hall, combining unique vocal work with their own special sense of humor.

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