As a child, I spent fourteen years in ballet and tap classes. I even considered going to Skidmore College because I was so passionate about wanting to dance, but ultimately decided to follow a different career path to teaching. However, my love for dance has never ceased. So when I was planning a family trip to Saratoga Raceway and saw that the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame was five minutes away from the track, I knew we needed to make a stop. After spending the morning at Saratoga National Historic Site (read about my tips here) it was a quick 15 minute drive into town to the museum.
The museum and Hall of Fame are located inside the Saratoga Spa State Park, which is home to performing arts centers, museums, pools, a golf course, and a resort and spa. From the outside, I must admit I thought the museum looked a little dated. However, once inside, I noticed that is beautifully maintained and full of really fun, unique exhibits. It’s definitely worth a stop for a couple of hours before you head to the race track. Bonus: Admission is free on Tuesday, when we visited. The museum is closed Sunday and Monday.
The Dancing Athlete was, collectively, my family’s favorite exhibit. It includes displays for about a dozen sports and showed many similarities between dancing and various sports. It’s obvious to see parallels between dancing and ice skating or skiing, but we were surprised to see how similar some of the skills in dance are duplicated in football, basketball, soccer, and even boxing! My seven year son, who had been dragging his feet through some of the other areas, had to be pulled out of this exhibit.
The Children’s Wing was another area we could have spent a long time in, had we not been on a tighter schedule. There are a ton of activities to keep dancers, and non dancers, engaged:
- A huge chalk wall
- A variety of dance costumes
- A book nook
- A green screen for kids to “perform”
- A hard wooden floor and a variety of tap shoes in various sizes to “practice”. The back wall displays the steps for the waltz, tango, cha-cha, and rumba.
- Hula hoops
Other “I Spy”s for the museum:
- Five foot tall fiberglass sculptures of pointe shoes, from the “Saratoga En Pointe” project displayed throughout the museum and grounds. We spotted 5 of them, but overall there are 30 sculptures in and around the city. Check out the map to see how many you can find while you're in town. Photos of all 30 shoes can be found in the Hall of Fame.
- Tons of costumes from famous performances
- A collection of autographed pointe shoes and a collection of dancer Tommy Tune’s dance shoes.
- A film exhibit with five screens simultaneously playing famous scenes. We took a break for about ten minutes and watched collages from Shirley Temple, “Singing in the Rain”, and “Footloose”.