New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet (NYCB), one of the foremost American dance companies of the 20th and 21st cents. It was founded by Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine as the Ballet Society in 1946. In 1948 the company took its present name and began regular performances at the New York City Center. It moved to what is now the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1964. NYCB's official teaching arm, the School of American Ballet, also is headquartered at Lincoln Center. Since 1966 the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has been NYCB's summer headquarters. Under Balanchine's direction the company developed a distinctly American style of dancing, combining Italian, French, and Russian traditions with an austere emotional control and flair for musicality. The company's works have ranged from the intensely dramatic Age of Anxiety (1950) and the highly comic Souvenirs (1955) to the formal abstractions of Agon (1958) and the lavish theatricality of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962). Although Balanchine was most closely identified with the company's development, other outstanding choreographers, including Jerome Robbins, have also created works for it. NYCB's roster of exceptional performers has included Maria Tallchief, Melissa Hayden, André Eglevsky, Todd Bolender, Suzanne Farrell, Edward Villella, and Jacques d'Amboise. The company has toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Balanchine, who was involved with the company until his death in 1983, was succeeded by Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins, who were named co-ballet masters in chief. Upon Robbins's retirement in 1990, Martins was the company's director until he stepped down in 2018. Since the mid-1990s, new outstanding choreographers, principal among them Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, and Justin Peck, have emerged to create dances for NYCB.

See study by L. Kirstein (1973, rev. ed. 1978); L. Garafola, ed., Dance for a City (1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Dance