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Isabella Boylston Returns to Sun Valley-Where It All Began
Thursday, August 10, 2023


Isabella Boylston was 3 when she began dancing under the tutelage of Footlight Dance Company’s Hilarie Neely and Helen Whiting Collette.

Now she is a celebrated dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, returning to her hometown to perform two evenings of solos and pas de deux at The Argyros Center for the Performing Arts in Ketchum.

She will perform alongside American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Calvin Royal and James Whiteside with concert pianist Jacek Mysinsky and pop recording star Rozzi.

“I think I was a frog that first time,” she said of her debut with Footlight Dance. “So, returning to my hometown to perform as a full-fledged dancer as I’ve been privileged to do a few times brings me full circle. Especially since I’m coming back as an adult, having creative control over what I’m doing.”

Boylston will perform at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Friday--Aug. 10 and 11--at The Argyros. Tickets start at $50, available at

She performed with Royal, Whiteside and Rozzi in mid-February 2019 just before the pandemic closed theatres across the world. Her collaboration with Rozzi is rather unique, but the two can’t get enough of each other.

“I was totally blown away by her voice even before meeting her,” said Boylston. “And, when we met in person, it felt like we had a ton of chemistry. It felt like we were kindred spirits.”

Her latest show is a bit of a “greatest hits from my career so far,” said Boylston.

“There will be excerpts from iconic classical ballets like ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ as well as some newer pieces like Christopher Wheeldon’s meditative ‘After the Rain Pas de deux.’ And, of course, my career would be nothing without my incredible artistic collaborators, which is why I’ve brought fellow ABT principals Calvin Royal III and James Whiteside to perform with me.

“The musical guests are the fabulous pop star Rozzi Crane and the exceptional pianist Jacek Mysinski. A lot of love and hard work went into preparing this show. Today we rehearsed for nine hours straight to get everything from the staging to the lighting and, of course, the dancing just right. The lighting by Sun Valley local Samuel Mollner is looking great.”

Now 36, Boylston was born in Sun Valley, named Hildur Isabella Boylston for her Icelandic great-grandmother. Her father Mike was a self-proclaimed ski bum and drummer in a country western band and her mother Cornelia, a Swedish engineer and businesswoman.

She took to dance like a duck to water—so much so that she begged her parents to send her to the Academy of Colorado Ballet in Denver at 12.  She joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in 2005 and became an apprentice with the main company the following year. After joining the corps de ballet in 2007, she was promoted to soloist in 2011 and principal in 2014.

She has appeared as guest artist with the Royal Danish Ballet and the Marinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, and she served as Jennifer Lawrence’s dance double in the film “Red Sparrow.” In 2019 she helped break the Guinness World Record for the most dancers to go on pointe at the same time on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

“This year has been a whirlwind for us. We finished our five-week engagement at the Met Opera House at Lincoln Center and went straight to the Vail Dance Festival and finally have arrived here in Sun Valley. The Argyros is one of my favorite places to perform and I can’t wait to share this special program with everyone,” she said.

Before there was the Argyros, however, there was the Sun Valley Pavilion. Boylston curated the Ballet Sun Valley Festival in 2017 and 2018, offering two days of dance performances featuring dancers from the New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and other dance companies. She was inspired to do so after seeing the Sun Valley Pavilion while in Sun Valley looking for a place to get married.

“I could just imagine the possibilities of bringing together a dozen of the world’s greatest ballet dancers under Sun Valley’s stars,” she said.

With the first Festival taking the stage a few days after the Total Solar Eclipse, a 25-piece orchestra played on in dramatic fashion, as dancers representing the moons danced around the sun. Things went dark as Boylston and Marcello Gomes embraced, the moon kissing the sun just as it had a couple days earlier. Then the two broke into a dance for the ages as the moon took the sun for a spin

As for Daniel Shin—the man she married in Warm Springs’ Croney Cove nine years ago? They now live in a Brooklyn apartment filled with art and floor-to-ceiling windows that’s garnered looks in art and fashion magazines.

Forbes has called Boylston a talent that comes once in a generation. Indeed, she is very athletic, able to  perform Superman-like leaps across the stage. She has a penchant for giggles, a fondness for chocolate and chocolate chip cookies and a secret longing to ski—a sport she gave up when she joined the American Ballet Theatre.

But she loves to hike--Alice Lake and Sawtooth Lake are a couple of her favorite trails when back in Sun Valley. And she loves to counsel young dancers just coming up in the world, telling them not to let injuries or bad reviews shake their confidence.

“Every single person has heard the word, ‘No.’ It’s what you do with that rejection that determines your future,” she said. “Have a mantra to come back to. Mine is, ‘Always keep improving.’ ”




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