Élégie is a ballet made by New York City Ballet's founding ballet master (and co-founder) George Balanchine to Igor Stravinsky's Élégie for solo viola (1944). The first of three ballets made with this title was a pas de deux which had its première Monday, November 5, 1945, on a program of the National Orchestral Society entitled Adventure in Ballet, together with Circus Polka, danced by School of American Ballet students with Todd Bolender as guest artist, and Symphonie Concertante.
The Ballet Society première was Wednesday, April 28, 1948 at City Center of Music and Drama; the violist was Emanuel Vardi. The evening included the première of Orpheus, which lead directly to the founding of New York City Ballet as a resident company at City Center. Stravinsky referred to Élégie as a kind of preview for the Orpheus pas de deux, the music reflecting through the interlaced bodies of the dancers fixed in a central spot on stage.
The second version was a solo created for Lukas Foss' A Festival of Stravinsky: His Heritage and His Legacy, which also included the première of Balanchine's Ragtime (II). Its première took place on Friday, July 15, 1966, in Philharmonic Hall, New York; the violist was Jesse Levine; the first City Ballet performance was Thursday, July 28 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, again with Jesse Levine.
Balanchine created the third version for City Ballets's Stravinsky Centennial Celebration; its première was Sunday, June 13, 1982, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center; the on-stage violist was Warren Laffredo; at the opening and closing of the work the dancer kneels in a pool of light on an otherwise dark stage.