New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet (NYCB) is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine[1] and Lincoln Kirstein.[2] Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company. Léon Barzin was the company's first music director. 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.

New York City Ballet
General information
NameNew York City Ballet
Previous names
Year founded1948
Founding choreographers
Principal venue
Artistic staff
Artistic DirectorJonathan Stafford (and Wendy Whelan, Associate Artistic Director)
Ballet MistressRosemary Dunleavy
Music DirectorAndrew Litton
OrchestraThe New York City Ballet Orchestra
Official schoolSchool of American Ballet
Associated schools
  • Principal Dancer
  • Soloist
  • Corps de Ballet


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.

NYCB still has the largest repertoire by far of any American ballet company. 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. Many dancers with already developed reputations have also joined the ballet as principal dancers.

Salute to Italy

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

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

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

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.[13]

Stravinsky Centennial Celebration

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.[14] 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

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.[15]

Peter Martins

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. Martins retired from his position in 2018.[16]

American Music Festival

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.[13]

Jerome Robbins celebration

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

Dancers' Choice

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:

On June 14, 2009, the second Dancers' Choice benefit was held at a special evening performance. The program included Sleeping Beauty and Union Jack.[18][19] The program was supervised by principal dancer Jenifer Ringer.


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,[20] 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.[21]

Other public programs include Family Saturdays, one-hour interactive programs for children 5 and up;[22] 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;[23][24] and Ballet Essentials, a 75-minute informal ballet class for adults ages 21 and up with little to no prior dance experience.[25] These programs are all facilitated by NYCB dancers.

$30 for 30 and Fourth Ring Society/Society NYCB

New York City Ballet offers tickets for $30 to select performances for patrons ages 13 to 30 at the box office, or online or by phone with an account; sales for each performance week (Tue. evening through Sun. matinee) begin at 10:00 a.m. on the Monday of that week.[26]

New York City Ballet's Fourth Ring Society offered discounted tickets to all shows in the theater's Fourth Ring for a small annual fee. This program was closed to new members in 2011 and renamed Society NYCB to reflect an expanded offering of discounted seats in all sections of the theater, although over time a few ballet programs (e.g., Nutcracker) and individual dates became unavailable. [27][28]

New York Choreographic Institute

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.[29]


Principal Dancers

Name Nationality Training Joined NYCB Promoted to
Jared Angle  United States Allegheny Ballet Academy
School of American Ballet
1998 2005
Tyler Angle  United States
Ashley Bouder  United States
Adrian Danchig-Waring  United States
Megan Fairchild  United States
Gonzalo Garcia  Spain
Joseph Gordon  United States
Anthony Huxley  United States
Sterling Hyltin  United States
Russell Janzen  United States
Maria Kowroski  United States
Ask la Cour  Denmark
Lauren Lovette  United States
Sara Mearns  United States
Tiler Peck  United States
Amar Ramasar  United States
Teresa Reichlen  United States
Abi Stafford  United States
Taylor Stanley  United States
Daniel Ulbricht  United States
Andrew Veyette  United States

Artistic staff

The following is the current artistic staff (except dancers, who are listed at List of New York City Ballet dancers):[30]



Guest teachers

Children's ballet mistress

  • Dena Abergel

Assistant children's ballet master

  • Arch Higgins

Resident choreographer

The New York City Ballet Orchestra

The 66-member NYCB Orchestra is an important symphonic institution in its own right, having played for virtually all of the thousands of performances NYCB has given over the decades. It is one of the most versatile orchestras in the world, on any given week performing perhaps three or four times the repertoire that another symphony might be expected to do.[33] Principal players of the orchestra also perform the majority of the concertos, other solos, and chamber music in the NYCB repertory as well. The orchestra accompanies the ballet on all of its North American tours, and while the ballet uses local orchestras on its international tours, members of the NYCB Orchestra often go along as soloists or extras.

Besides the members of the orchestra, the NYCB has six pianists on full-time staff.[34] They all perform in the pit with the orchestra on a regular basis.

The NYCB Orchestra also occasionally accompanies other dance companies when they visit The David H. Koch Theater from other cities. These engagements have included the Australian Ballet in the Spring 2012,[35] and the San Francisco Ballet[36] in the Fall 2013.

Over the decades the NYCB Orchestra has welcomed other noted orchestral musicians to collaborate on special performances. Included among this group was John Serry Sr., who served as the lead orchestral accordionist during the NYCB's 20th anniversary season in the premiere of Jacques d' Amboise's Tchaikovsky Suite (1969).

In January 2019, it was announced that an anonymous donor had funded the renaming of the orchestra pit as the "Stravinsky Orchestra Pit" presumably in honor of the great number of premieres and performances of that composer's works the ballet has done, perhaps more than any other orchestra in the world.

Music director

Andrew Litton was appointed to the position on December 16, 2014, and started in September 2015.[37]

Staff conductors

  • Clotilde Otranto
  • Andrews Sill (acting Music Director 2012–2014 and Associate Music Director 2014–present)
  • Daniel Capps
  • Ryan McAdams (associate conductor 2011)

Historical music directors

  • Leon Barzin, 1948–c1963
  • Robert Irving ("The Duke"), c.1963–1989
  • Gordon Boelzner, 1989-2000
  • Andrea Quinn, 2000–2006
  • Fayçal Karoui, 2006–2012

Other conductors of note

  • Hugo Fiorato (retired 2004) (Conductor Emeritus),
  • Maurice Kaplow (retired 2010 as Principal Conductor)


Misconduct allegations against Peter Martins

In December 2017, Martins took a leave of absence from the New York City Ballet following an allegation of sexual misconduct made against him.[38][39][40] Five City Ballet dancers later told the New York Times that Martins had verbally or physical abused them; Martins denied engaging in any misconduct.[41][42] Martins retired from the City Ballet on January 1, 2018.[42] An independent inquiry commissioned by NYCB and SAB and led by employment-law attorney Barbara E. Hoey did not corroborate the allegations of harassment or violence made against Martins, according to a joint statement issued by the company and school. The report itself was not made public.[43][44][45][46]

Nude photos allegation

In September 2018, Alexandra Waterbury, an ex-girlfriend of NYCB principal dancer Chase Finlay, began a civil action in New York County Supreme Court against Finlay, principal dancers Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro, NYCB patron Jared Longhitano, New York City Ballet and SAB. Her lawsuit claimed harm by Finlay for allegedly taking and sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of Waterbury without her knowledge or consent, and by Ramasar, Catazaro, Longhitano, NYCB and SAB for allegedly contributing to that harm in various ways.[47]

All defendants disputed key factual allegations made in the complaint as well as their liability as a matter of law; they all filed motions to dismiss.[48] The case is currently pending disposition.

Waterbury's lawsuit led to Finlay's resignation and the firing of Ramasar and Catazaro.[49] In April 2019 an arbitrator ordered Ramasar and Catazaro reinstated; Catazaro decided not to rejoin the company.[50]


  1. Jane Philbin Wood (November 1998). "Memories of Ballet Society and choreographer George Balanchine". Dance Magazine. Archived from the original on 2005-12-24. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
  2. Laura Raucher (2008). "Kirstein 100: A Tribute Online Exhibition". New York City Ballet. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
  3. Martin, John (November 4, 1934). "The Dance: American Ballet in debut; A New Group Emerges From Training for First Public Tour". The New York Times.
  4. Martin, John (June 28, 1936). "The Dance: A new troupe; Group From the American Ballet Organizes Summer Tour". The New York Times.
  5. Martin, John (May 18, 1941). "The Danse: Bon voyage; American Ballet Caravan Is Revived to Make Extended South American Tour". The New York Times.
  6. "New Ballet Group enters field here; Balanchine Is Artistic Director of Ballet Society, Which Will Open Season on Nov.20". The New York Times. October 21, 1946.
  7. Martin, John (October 27, 1946). "The Dance: New Ballet; In 'Three Virgins and a Devil'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  8. Alastair Macaulay, "A Paragon of the Arts, as Both Man and Titan" (review of Martin Duberman, The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein), Books of the Times, New York Times, 4 May 2007, accessed 5 January 2015
  9. Martin, John (June 27, 1948). "The Dance: City Ballet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  10. Martin, John (October 12, 1948). "City Ballet Group in First Program; Works by Balanchine Offered by Unit as Series of Dance Performances Begins". The New York Times.
  11. Nicholas Magallanes Obituary, The New York Times, 5 May 1977 on
  12. Anna Kisselgoff, "Francisco Moncion, 76, a Charter Member of New York City Ballet." obituary, New York Times, 4 April 1985.
  13. A festival of the same name is planned for 2013.
  14. Dunning, Jennifer (June 11, 1982). "City Ballet opens 8-day celebration of Stravinsky". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  15. Anderson, Jack (April 26, 1984). "City Ballet: A 20-Year Celebration". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  16. Sulcas, Roslyn (19 April 2013). "City Ballet's Leader, 30 Years In". New York Times. New York City, United States. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  17. Flit of Fury/The Monarch: premiere
  18. Macaulay, Alastair (June 15, 2009). "When the Performers Write the Program". The New York Times.
  19. Dreyer, Lindsay (June 22, 2009). "New York City Ballet's Second Annual Dancers' Choice Benefit Performance". Dancer Universe Blog. Archived from the original on May 16, 2010.
  20. "First Position Discussions". NYCB. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  21. "Inside NYCB". NYCB. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  22. "Family Saturdays". NYCB. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  23. "Children's Workshops". NYCB. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  24. "In Motion Workshops". NYCB. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  25. "Ballet Essentials". NYCB. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  26. "$30 for 30". NYCB. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  27. "City Ballet Offers New Discount Program". New York Times. August 10, 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  28. "City Ballet Raises Ticket Cost and Ire". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  29. "New York Choreographic Institute". NYCB. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  30. "Artistic Staff". New York City Ballet. 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  31. Hall will be a soloist through the end of the 2016 Summer tour to Paris, at which time he will be promoted to balletmaster.
  32. Sulcas, Roslyn (2014-07-09). "New York City Ballet Names Justin Peck as Choreographer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  33. "New York City Ballet Orchestra Musicians". Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  34. "NYCB Orchestra". NYCB. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  35. "'Swan Lake' by Australian Ballet at Koch Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  36. "San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky and Morris Works". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  37. "Andrew Litton to Lead New York City Ballet Orchestra". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  38. "New York City Ballet leader to take leave amid sexual, violence allegations". Washington Post. December 7, 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  39. Lauren Wingenroth (December 8, 2017). "Peter Martins Is Taking A Leave of Absence As More Accusations Surface". Dance.
  40. Robin Pogrebin, City Ballet's Peter Martins Takes Leave of Absence After Misconduct Accusation, New York Times (December 7, 2017).
  41. Robin Pogrebin, Five Dancers Accuse City Ballet’s Peter Martins of Physical Abuse, New York Times (December 12, 2017).
  42. Pogrebin, Robin (January 1, 2018). "Peter Martins Retires From New York City Ballet After Misconduct Allegations". The New York Times.
  43. Robin Pogrebin, Abuse Accusations Against Peter Martins Are Not Corroborated, Inquiry Says, New York Times (February 15, 2018).
  44. "BARBARA E. HOEY, Partner". Law Firm of Kelley Drye. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  45. "NYCB and SAB Have Announced the Results of the Peter Martins Harassment Investigation". Dance Magazine. February 16, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  46. "NYCB's Internal Investigation Does Not Corroborate Sexual Harassment Claims Against Peter Martins". Pointe Magazine. February 16, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  47. "Waterbury v. Chase Finlay et al". Docket List, No. 1, No. 3, No. 77. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  48. "Waterbury v. Finlay et al". Docket List. Motions 001–010. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  49. "- The Washington Post". Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  50. "City Ballet Ordered to Reinstate Male Dancers Fired Over Inappropriate Texts". New York Times. April 19, 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.


  • Balanchine. A Biography, Bernard Taper. Collier Books Edition.
  • The New York City Ballet. Thirty Years, Lincoln Kirstein.
  • The New York City Ballet, Anatole Chujoy. Knopf. 1953.
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