NYCB’s Half Century

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In New York

This article was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 18, 1998.

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NYCB’s Half Century

On October 11, 1948, a young ballet company founded

by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein gave its first performance

as the New York City Ballet. The program at New York’s City Center

theater consisted of three news ballets by the Russian emigre


that have since become the treasured jewels of American ballet —

"Concerto Barocco," "Symphony in C," and


It was an auspicious debut for the company that would go on to


an art form and bring glory to the city it calls home.

This year’s celebration of NYCB’s 50th anniversary season opens on

Tuesday, November 24, with a star-studded gala program recreating

the company’s historic opening night program, and evolves into an

ambitious and sweeping season of company glories. Spanning 10 months

and more than 200 performances, the anniversary year will showcase

the treasure chest of the company’s repertory — comprising more

than 100 ballets — with works by Balanchine, co-founding


Jerome Robbins, and artistic director Peter Martins, and a host of


Sharing the spotlight are the works of some of this century’s most

acclaimed composers, artists, writers, and designers who worked with

the company, including Frederick Ashton, Antony Tudor, Martha Graham,

Merce Cunningham, Marc Chagall, W.H. Auden, and Isamu Noguchi.

Beginning with Balanchine’s beloved "Nutcracker," through

January 3, the season features four world premieres, revivals of


"Bugaku," Jacques d’Amboise’s "Irish Fantasy," and

Peter Martins’ "Les Gentilhommes." In keeping with


reputation as the most musical of choreographers, the celebration

features tributes to five composers and seven nations whose style

and spirit are reflected in the company, as well as three festivals

devoted to Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and American Music.

A week of Balanchine’s "Black + White" ballets, a week of

works by Jerome Robbins, and the premiere of Peter Martin’s new


"Swan Lake," are among the highlights.

Arriving in the United States in 1933, at the invitation of Kirstein,

Balanchine and Kirstein co-founded the School of American Ballet in

1934. Following World War II the pair formed Ballet Society,


in 1948 into New York City Ballet. Balanchine served as the company’s

ballet master until his death in 1983.

For ticket and season subscription information, call the box office

at 212-870-5570.

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