Balanchine and Massine at American Ballet Theatre

Sarah Lane and Danil Simkin in George Balanchine's Theme and Variations. Photo: Gene Schiavone

ABT's spring season at the Met offers two Balanchine ballets and one by Massine. In November, 1947, just before a small, stylish company named Ballet Society became the New York City Ballet, its balletmaster, George Balanchine, bestowed a gift on another New York-based company, Ballet Theatre. Theme and Variations, set to the “Theme and Variations” movement from Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 … [Read more...]

Jewels in the City’s Crown

Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford in Emeralds. Photo: Paul Kolnik

The New York City Ballet performs Balanchine's Jewels. To see George Balanchine’s 1967 Jewels again at its first performance during the New York City Ballet’s winter season is to be delighted all over again. In choreographing its three separate but united ballets, Balanchine absorbed and brilliantly interpreted three diverse musical styles, the threads of narrative and atmosphere that clung … [Read more...]

A Lark Ascends

Dance Theatre of Harlem in Robert Garland's Return. Photo: Matthew Murphy

The revived Dance Theatre of Harlem performs at Jacob’s Pillow, June 19 through 23. If a repertory company starts its program with a performance of George Balanchine’s Agon, where can it possibly go from there?  Higher?  Don’t make me laugh. But whatever follows, you can get a jolt of almost electric pleasure when Dance Theatre of Harlem begins its performance in Jacob’s Pillow’s Ted Shawn … [Read more...]

Dancing Love and Love of Dancing

Hee Sao and David Hallberg in American Ballet Theatre's production of Frederick Ashton's A Month in The Country. Photo: Morty Sohl

American Ballet Theatre’s new production of Frederick Ashton’s “A Month in the Country” on a program with Mark Morris’s “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” and George Balanchine’s “Symphony in C.” Metropolitan Opera House, May 21-23. Frederick Ashton’s A Month in the Country distills the five acts of Ivan Turgenev’s eponymous play and the passage of several weeks into 40 minutes of dancing, … [Read more...]

All American

Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Christopher Wheeldon's A Place for Us. Photo: Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center, April 30 through June 9 In the Spring of 1988, the New York City Ballet put on an American Music Festival. George Balanchine had been dead for five years, and the two Ballet Masters in Chief, Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins, commissioned enough new ballets to keep dancers, guest choreographers, and resident choreographers rushing in and out of the … [Read more...]

Fair Winds from the West

Seth Orza as Balanchine's Apollo with (front to back) Carla Körbes, Maria Chapman, and Lesley Rausch. Photo: Lindsay Thomas

Lincoln Kirstein has written that while the New York State Theater (now the Koch) was under construction, George Balanchine wandered in and saw that the pit would hold no more than 35 musicians. He immediately threatened to withdraw the New York City Ballet as the principal designated tenant. The pit was redesigned to accommodate 70 players. Had Balanchine, to whom music was so important, … [Read more...]

See the Music

Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, keeping an eye on his creations

George Balanchine once said that during his grueling years as a pupil in the Imperial St. Petersburg Theatrical School, he didn’t fall in love with ballet until he was twelve. The change occurred the first time he appeared onstage in Marius Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty, set to Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky’s ravishing score, and young Georgi Melitonovitch was cast as a Cupid. His arrows, so to speak, … [Read more...]

Astray in Summer Dreams

Cory Stearns as Oberon and Xiomra Reyes as Titania in ABT's The Dream. Photo: Gene Schiavone

If you can’t see a production of Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a woodland setting during a long June twilight, as I once did, you can be enthralled by a different sort of magic conjured up by the Bard’s plot. George Balanchine’s 1962 ballet of the same name ended its week in the New York City Ballet’s season before American Ballet Theatre hit the solstice dead on with Frederick … [Read more...]