New York City Ballet

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New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet Logo.png
General information
Name New York City Ballet
Previous names
  • American Ballet
  • Ballet Caravan
  • American Ballet Caravan
  • The Ballet Society
Year founded 1948
Founders
Founding choreographers
Principal venue
Website www.nycballet.com
Artistic staff
Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress Rosemary Dunleavy
Music Director Andrew Litton
Other
Orchestra The New York City Ballet Orchestra
Official school School of American Ballet
Associated schools
Formation Principal Dancer
Soloist
Corps de Ballet

New York City Ballet (NYCB) is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine[1] and Lincoln Kirstein.[2] Léon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company. City Ballet grew out of earlier troupes: the Producing Company of the School of American Ballet,[3] 1934; the American Ballet,[4] 1935, and Ballet Caravan, 1936, which merged into American Ballet Caravan,[5] 1941; and directly from the Ballet Society,[6][7] 1946.

History[edit]

In a 1946 letter, Kirstein stated, "The only justification I have is to enable Balanchine to do exactly what he wants to do in the way he wants to do it."[8] He served as the company's General Director from 1946 to 1989, developing and sustaining it by his organizational and fundraising abilities.[8]

The company was named New York City Ballet in 1948 when it became resident at City Center of Music and Drama.[9][10] Its success was marked by its move to the New York State Theater, now David H. Koch Theater, designed by Philip Johnson to Balanchine's specifications. City Ballet went on to become the first ballet company in the United States to have two permanent venue engagements: one at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on 63rd Street in Manhattan, and another at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in Saratoga Springs, New York. The School of American Ballet (S.A.B.), which Balanchine founded, is the training school of City Ballet.

After the company's move to the State Theater, Balanchine's creativity as a choreographer flourished. He created works that were the basis of the company's repertory until his death in 1983. His vision influenced dance both across the United States and in Europe. He worked closely with choreographer Jerome Robbins, who resumed his connection with the company in 1969 after having produced works for Broadway.

New York City Ballet in Amsterdam with George Balanchine

NYCB still has the largest repertoire by far of any American ballet company, and it often stages 60 ballets or more in its winter and spring seasons at Lincoln Center each year, and 20 or more in its summer season in Saratoga Springs. City Ballet has performed The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and many more. City Ballet has trained and developed many great dancers since its formation. Also, many dancers with already developed reputations have joined City Ballet as principal dancers.

Salute to Italy [edit]

In 1960 Balanchine mounted City Ballet's Salute to Italy with premieres of Monumentum pro Gesualdo and Variations from Don Sebastian (called the Donizetti Variations since 1961), as well as performances of his La Sonnambula and Lew Christensen's Con Amore. The performance was repeated in 1968.

Stravinsky Festival [edit]

David H. Koch Theater shown pre-renovation.

In 1972 Balanchine offered an eight-day tribute to the composer, his great collaborator, who had died the year before. His programs included twenty-two new works of his own dances, plus works by choreographers Todd Bolender, John Clifford, Lorca Massine, Jerome Robbins, Richard Tanner, and John Taras, as well as repertory ballets by Balanchine and Robbins. Balanchine created Symphony in Three Movements, Duo Concertant, and Violin Concerto for the occasion. He and Robbins co-choreographed and performed in Pulcinella. Balanchine had produced an earlier Stravinsky festival in 1937 as balletmaster of the American Ballet while engaged by the Metropolitan Opera. The composer conducted the April 27th premiere of Card Party.

Ravel Festival [edit]

In 1975 Balanchine paid his respects to the French composer Maurice Ravel with a two-week Hommage à Ravel. Balanchine, Robbins, Jacques d'Amboise, and Taras made sixteen new ballets for the occasion. Repertory ballets were performed as well. High points included Balanchine's Le Tombeau de Couperin and Robbins' Mother Goose.

Tschaikovsky Festival [edit]

In 1981 Balanchine planned a two-week NYCB festival honoring the Russian composer Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky. Balanchine, Joseph Duell, d'Amboise, Peter Martins, Robbins, and Taras created twelve new dances. In addition to presenting these and repertory ballets, Balanchine re-choreographed his Mozartiana from 1933. Philip Johnson and John Burgee's stage setting of translucent tubing was designed to be hung and lit in different architectural configurations throughout the entire festival.[11]

Stravinsky Centennial Celebration[edit]

In 1982 Balanchine organized a centennial celebration in honor of his long-time collaborator Igor Stravinsky, during which the City Ballet performed twenty-five ballets set to the composer’s music. Balanchine made three new ballets, Tango, Élégie, and Persephone, and a new version of Variations.[12] The choreographer died the following year. Balanchine’s 50th Anniversary Celebration was held by the company in 2002.

New York State Theater 20-Year Celebration[edit]

On April 26, 1984, NYCB celebrated the 20th anniversary of the New York State Theater. The program started with Igor Stravinsky's Fanfare for a New Theater, followed by Stravinsky's arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner. The ballets included: three of Balanchine's works, Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Sonatine; and Jerome Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun. The performers included Maria Calegari, Kyra Nichols, Heather Watts, Leonid Kozlov, Afshin Mofid, Patricia McBride, Helgi Tomasson, Karin von Aroldingen, Lourdes Lopez, Bart Cook, and Joseph Duell.[13]

Peter Martins[edit]

After Balanchine's death in 1983, Peter Martins was selected as balletmaster of the company. After 30 years, Martins was judged to have maintained the New York City Ballet's financial security and the musicality and performance level of the dancers, but he has not emphasized the Balanchine style to the extent that many observers expected he would.[14]

American Music Festival[edit]

For the company's 40th anniversary, Martins held an American Music Festival, having commissioned dances from choreographers Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, William Forsythe, Lar Lubovitch, and Paul Taylor. He also presented ballets by George Balanchine and Robbins. The programs included world premieres of more than twenty dances. Martins contributed Barber Violin Concerto, Black and White, The Chairman Dances, A Fool for You, Fred and George, Sophisticated Lady, Tanzspiel, Tea-Rose, and The Waltz Project.[11]

Jerome Robbins celebration[edit]

A major component of the Spring 2008 season was a celebration of Jerome Robbins; major revivals were mounted of the following ballets:

Dancers' Choice [edit]

Friday, June 27, 2008, the first Dancers’ Choice benefit was held for the Dancers' Emergency Fund. The program was initiated by Peter Martins, conceived and supervised by principal dancer Jonathan Stafford, assisted by Kyle Froman, Craig Hall, Amanda Hankes, Adam Hendrickson, Ask la Cour, Henry Seth, and Daniel Ulbricht, and consisted of:

and excerpts from:

Sunday June 14, 2009 the second Dancers’ Choice benefit was held at a special evening performance, the program included: Sleeping Beauty and Union Jack.[16][17] This program was supervised by principal dancer Jenifer Ringer.

Programming[edit]

Peter Martins NYCB Balletmaster in Chief, pictured here in 2009.

NYCB performs fall, winter and spring repertory seasons at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center as well as George Balanchine's Nutcracker during November and December; they have a summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and regularly tour internationally.

Introductory talks about a current performance, called First Position Discussions,[18] are held before some performances or during some intervals in the fourth ring, house right; the docents are volunteers and include laymen as well as former dancers. Hour-long Inside NYCB events explore the history and inner workings of New York City Ballet through performance and discussion, often with dancers and artistic staff.[19]

Other public programs include: Family Saturdays, one-hour interactive programs for children 5 and up,[20] Children's Workshops and In Motion Workshops, pre-performance explorations of the music, movement, and themes of a ballet featured in the matinee performance for children ages 5–8 and 9-11, respectively,[21][22] and Ballet Essentials, a 75-minute informal ballet class for adults ages 21 and up with little to no prior dance experience.[23] These programs are all facilitated by NYCB dancers.

30 for $30 and Fourth Ring Society[edit]

New York City Ballet offers day-of tickets to patrons age 30 and under for $30, the day of the performance at the box office. Availability is announced Mondays during performance periods.[24]

New York City Ballet's Fourth Ring Society offers discounted tickets to members. This program was closed to new members in 2011.[25]

New York Choreographic Institute[edit]

City Ballet's Choreographic Institute was founded by Irene Diamond and Peter Martins in 2000. The institute has three main programmatic programs: choreographic sessions, providing choreographers with dancers and studio space; fellowship initiatives, annual awards in support of an emerging choreographer affiliated with a ballet company; and choreographic forums, symposia and round-table discussions on choreography, music, and design elements.[26]

Dancers[edit]

Artistic staff[edit]

The following is the current artistic staff (except dancers, who are listed at List of New York City Ballet dancers):[27]

Balletmaster in chief[edit]

Peter Martins, who first danced with City Ballet in 1967 joined the company as a principal dancer in 1970,[28] in 1981 was named balletmaster, a title shared with Balanchine, Robbins, and John Taras. Martins served as co-balletmaster in chief with Robbins from 1983 to 1989 and assumed sole directorship of the company in 1990.

Balletmistress[edit]

Balletmasters[edit]