On "THEATRE": American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre

Choreography by Michel Fokine
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: October 27, 1941
Fokine’s first new creation for Ballet Theatre was the comedy Bluebeard, and the ballet proved to be a critical and popular success. The work was still in the repertory when the Company visited the Soviet Union in 1960, where the Premier Khrushchev declared it to be his favorite of the evening’s program.

Pictured: Kenneth Davis and Dimitri Romanoff

Choreography by Michel Fokine
Music by Igor Stravinsky
Ballet Theatre Premiere: August 27, 1942
At a carnival in 1830 St. Petersburg, merry crowds gather in Admiralty Square as a Charlatan brings to life his three dancing puppets, imbued with the human sentiments that lead to love and jealousy. Considered one of the great ballets of all time, its fusion of choreography, music and theme — the tragedy of the human spirit — unite to form the foundation of its universal appeal.

Pictured: Andre Eglevsky, Lucia Chase and Leonide Massine

Billy the Kid
Choreography by Eugene Loring
Music by Aaron Copland
Ballet Theatre Premiere: December 8, 1940
In eleven episodes, the ballet depicts the pioneering of the West as illustrated by incidents in the life of Billy the Kid, the infamous outlaw who was born William Bonney in New York City at the close of the Civil War.

Pictured: Ruth Ann Koesun and John Kriza

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

Dark Elegies
Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by Gustav Mahler
Ballet Theatre Premiere: January 24, 1940
Referred to as a "symphonic ballet," Dark Elegies joins the movements of the dancers closely with the text of five songs on the death of children from Mahler's song cycle, Kindertotenlieder. The text, written by Friedrich Rückert, expresses the raw emotion of a tight–knit community faced with the inexplicable loss of their beloved children.

Pictured: Lucia Chase, Hugh Laing, Antony Tudor and Hubert Bland

Dark Elegies

Pictured: Zachary Solov, Lucia Chase and John Kriza

Gala Performance
Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Ballet Theatre Premiere: February 11, 1941
Three world-famous ballerinas of Russian, Italian and French descent appear together on stage for the very first time in their careers at a Gala Performance, and each tries to outshine the others. Tongue-in-cheek, Tudor pokes good-natured fun at the ballerinas’ relationships with the backstage personnel, their partners and their audience.

Pictured: Antony Tudor, Nora Kaye, Alicia Alonso, Norma Vance and Hugh Laing

Romeo and Juliet
Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by Frederick Delius
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: April 6, 1943
Tudor's interpretation of the ill-fated love story by William Shakespeare remains the only ballet version of Romeo and Juliet presented in one act. Interestingly, Tudor could not finish this forty-five minute ballet by the date of its premiere; a finished version was presented four days later.

Pictured: Hugh Laing, Antony Tudor, Dimitri Romanoff, Lucia Chase and Alicia Markova

Romeo and Juliet

Pictured: Antony Tudor,
Nicholas Orloff and Hugh Laing

Romeo and Juliet

Pictured: Hugh Laing and
Alicia Markova

Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by William Schuman
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: April 10, 1945
Murder and sex, the ballet's themes, were common currency in the psychological dance-drama of the 1940's, and Tudor was king of the genre. This ballet of “psychological murder” was a striking example of ballet’s ability to animate highly erotic themes.

Pictured: Diana Adams and Hugh Laing

Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: October 24, 1946
After the success of Fancy Free, Robbins collaborated with Bernstein on a second work, Facsimile. Robbins explores the observation by the medical researcher Santiago Ramón y Cajol: “Small inward treasure does he possess who, to feel alive, needs every hour the tumult of the street, the emotion of the theater and the small talk of society.”

Pictured: John Kriza, Nora Kaye and Jerome Robbins

Fall River Legend
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Music by Morton Gould
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: April 22, 1948
Based on the famous Lizzie Borden case - the unsolved murders of her father and stepmother - Fall River Legend explores the passions that lead to a violent resolution of oppression and turmoil.

Pictured: Lucia Chase and Alicia Alonso

Fall River Legend

Pictured: Nora Kaye and
James Mitchell

Le Jeune Homme et la Morte
Choreography by Roland Petit
Music by J.S. Bach
Ballet Theatre Premiere: April 9, 1951
With a one-act libretto by Jean Cocteau, the ballet depicts a tormented young painter cruelly rejected by a girl with whom he has an infatuation and which leads to his demise at his own hand. The dancer Jean Babilée, who had fought with the French Underground during the German occupation of Paris, was the image of reckless abandon when he seized the title role in the Ballet Theatre premiere of the work.

Pictured: Jean Babilée

The Combat
Choreography by William Dollar
Music by Raffaello de Banfield
Ballet Theatre Premiere: July 23, 1953
The Combat is inspired by Tasso’s poem, “Jerusalem Delivered,” and conveys a tale of mortal combat between a Christian knight and a masked assailant, who is revealed to be his lover, a Saracen maiden.

Pictured: Lupe Serrano

Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan
Music by Béla Bartók
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: May 6, 1957
Inspired by a series of paintings by Edvard Munch depicting the poem “Death and the Maiden,” MacMillan created Journey with four movements entitled “Premonitions,” “Three Messengers of Death,” “Journey,” and “Judgement,” which represent the passage towards death, from the first premonition to the final judgment.

Pictured: Nora Kaye


Pictured: Scott Douglas,
Royes Fernandez, John Kriza
and Nora Kaye

Winter's Eve
Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan
Music by Benjamin Britten
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: January 16, 1957
MacMillan tells the tragic story of a young man who meets a girl, not knowing that she is blind. When her secret is revealed, she leaves in distress, but the young man follows, they struggle and he becomes blinded. She teaches him to walk in the darkness until they are separated by the crowd, unable to find each other.

Pictured: Nora Kaye and John Kriza

Miss Julie
Choreography by Birgit Cullberg
Music by Ture Rangstrom
ABT Premiere: September 18, 1958
Based on the play by August Strindberg, Miss Julie portrays the victimization caused by tradition and honor. Miss Julie, the daughter of a Swedish count, rejects the man her father wants her to marry, and instead falls in love with Jean, the butler. In seducing her, he is driven by the urge to avenge himself for the injustices he has suffered from the aristocratic class and drives her towards destruction.

Pictured: Toni Lander and Glen Tetley

Offenbach in the Underworld (Le Bar du Can Can)
Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by Jacques Offenbach
ABT Premiere: April 18, 1956
The action takes place in a fashionable café in the 1870’s where people come to enjoy themselves, including a famous operetta star, a grand duke, a veiled debutante and a penniless painter. There is no set story, for the flirtations that occur at such a place and time are most often half-forgotten by the next morning. There is not an ending but only a closing time.

Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Music by Aaron Copland
Ballet Theatre Premiere: August 14, 1950
Rodeo tells the Southwestern love story of a cowgirl who tries unsuccessfully to attract a man by imitating the boys’ actions and dress with de Mille’s uniquely blended choreography incorporating square dancing, tap, modern dance and elements of horseback riding and cattle roping.

Pictured: Christine Sarry


Pictured: Jenny Workman and
Ruth Ann Koesun


Pictured: Terry Orr and
Christine Sarry

Rib of Eve
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Music by Morton Gould
Ballet Theatre World Premiere: April 25, 1956
Agnes de Mille abandoned the common folk to stage what she described as a "morality play" in which sophisticated intelligentsia reveal their shallowness at a cocktail party.

Pictured: Nora Kaye

A Streetcar Named Desire
Choreography by Valerie Bettis
Music by Alex North
Ballet Theatre Premiere: October 26, 1954
Described by Time as a “steamy ballet…gripping and disturbing” and based on the famed Tennesse Williams play, Bettis’ choreography blends classic ballet, modern dance and jazz to create a provocative visualization of the lead character’s twisted fantasy.

Pictured: John Kriza and Nora Kaye

Choreography by Enrique Martinez
Music by Léo Delibes
ABT Premiere: December 24, 1968
When Swanilda, the town beauty, becomes concerned that her love, Franz, has affections for another woman, she watches him admiring the toymaker’s “daughter.” Swanilda discovers her to be a lifelike doll and trades places with her, and the comedic events that follow lead to a happy ending for all.

Pictured: Victor Barbee, Karen Christensen and Danilo Radojevic


Pictured: Michael Smuin and
Cynthia Gregory

Echoing of Trumpets
Choreography by Antony Tudor
Music by Bohuslav Martinu
ABT Premiere: November 15, 1967
This ballet was created to the memory of the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice, which was destroyed in 1942 by Nazis who brutally attacked the inhabitants of a defenseless village; however, Tudor felt it could be any place and any time during a war. As he associated trumpets with victory, he sought to answer the question, “What happens after the echoing of trumpets, after the conquering hordes have conquered?”

Les Noces
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Music by Igor Stravinsky
ABT World Premiere: March 30, 1965
With a full stage of 28 dancers, 4 singers, 4 pianists and 4 percussionists, Robbins brings Stravinsky’s Les Noces to life, depicting the ritualistic elements found in the ancient customs and traditions of Russian peasant weddings.

Pictured: William Glassman and Erin Martin

Choreography by Glen Tetley
Music by Ernst Krenek
ABT Premiere: March 24, 1965
The choreography grows organically from the 12-tone music by the Viennese-native and prodigious composer Ernst Krenek in this strikingly theatrical ballet. With great power as well as sensitivity, Tetley creates a moving portrait of a heroine at life’s midpoint in futile search of her future and life's meaning.

Pictured: Sallie Wilson

La Sylphide
Choreography by Harald Lander after August Bournonville
Music by Hermann von Lovenskjold
ABT Premiere: November 11, 1964
The breakthrough European Romantic era ballet La Sylphide depicts the theme of humans as double beings with both a light and a dark side through the young Scotsman James, who becomes torn between the simple life he knows and the tempting and exciting allure of the beautiful Sylphide.

Pictured: Toni Lander and Royes Fernandez

La Fille mal Gardée
Choreography by Dimitri Romanoff
Music by Peter Ludwig Hertel
ABT Premiere: January 13, 1972
La Fille mal Gardée, or “The Wayward Daughter,” tells the delightful and comedic story of Mms. Simone, prosperous lady farmer, who frowns upon the love of her daughter, Lise, for Colin, a poor peasant lad, preferring to match her with Alain, the witless son of a rich vine-grower, and puts every possible obstacle in their way until love inevitably triumphs.

Pictured: Helyn Douglas, Michael Smuin and Jan Fisher

La Fille mal Gardée

La Fille mal Gardée

Pictured: Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov

Gaîté Parisienne
Choreography by Leonide Massine
Music by Jacques Offenbach
ABT Premiere: January 12, 1970
With high-kicking can-can girls, a cast of nobility, dandies, coquettes, soldiers and a visitor from Peru all clad in eye-popping Christian Lacroix costumes, Gaîté Parisienne celebrates the vivacious Parisian café of the Belle Epoque, performed to Offenbach’s sparkling melodies.

Medea (pas de deux)
Choreography by John Butler
Music by Samuel Barber
ABT Premiere: January 13, 1976
Created for Carla Fracci and Mikhail Baryshnikov, shortly after his defection, Butler’s Medea draws inspiration from Euripides’ tragic play of jealousy and revenge.

Pictured: Carla Fracci and Mikhail Baryshnikov

The Moor's Pavane
Choreography by José Limón
Music by Henry Purcell
ABT Premiere: June 27, 1970
Limón’s dance meditation on Shakespeare’s Othello uses the pull of gravity to draw out the emotional impact of the tragedy. As Limón explained, “I want to dig beneath empty formalisms, displays of technical virtuosity, and the slick surface; to probe the human entity for the powerful, often crude, beauty of the gesture that speaks of man's humanity.”

Pictured: Dennis Nahat, Bruce Marks and Sallie Wilson

Choreography by Marius Petipa
Staging and additional choreography by Rudolf Nureyev
Music by Alexander Glazunov
ABT World Premiere: June 26, 1975
With opulent and glowing costumes and designs by Nicholas Georgiadis, Nureyev’s Raymonda encompasses all of the original charm and beauty of Petipa’s choreography, featuring a balance of contrasting styles which result in a harmonious whole.

Pictured: Cynthia Gregory and Rudolf Nureyev


Pictured: Cynthia Gregory

The River
Choreography by Alvin Ailey
Music by Duke Ellington
ABT World Premiere: June 25, 1970
In a close collaboration with Duke Ellington, who composed his first dance score for this work, Ailey depicts an allegory of birth, life and rebirth through modern and jazz infused movements that suggest tumbling rapids and meandering streams on a journey to the sea.

Pictured: William Carter

Choreography by Alvin Ailey
Music by Benjamin Britten
ABT World Premiere: October 26, 1972
Set to Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, an orchestral suite from his opera Peter Grimes, Ailey’s Sea-Change draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “Full fathom five thy father lies;/ Of his bones are coral made;/ Those are pearls that were his eyes:/ Nothing of him that doth fade,/ But doth suffer a sea-change/Into something rich and strange…”

Pictured: Sallie Wilson

Choreography by Eliot Feld
Music by Richard Strauss
ABT Premiere: January 6, 1972
Theatre is Eliot Feld’s imaginative representation of the commedia dell’arte tradition, including such characters as the lovelorn clown, Pierrot, the lovers Colombina and Arlecchino, the beak-nosed grotesque, Pulcinello, among a further assortment of colorful personalities.

Pictured: Eliot Feld

La Bayadère
Choreography by Natalia Makarova after Marius Petipa
Music by Ludwig Minkus
ABT Premiere: May 21, 1980
Amid the sweeping vistas and grand temples of mystical India, La Bayadère is a glorious epic of eternal love and godly revenge, featuring the famed vision of the “Kingdom of the Shades,” showcasing the corps de ballet in gossamer white tutus, filling the stage in perfect unison sublime as angels arriving from heaven.

Pictured: Victor Barbee, Cynthia Harvey, Anthony Dowell and Natalia Makarova

La Bayadère

Pictured: Anthony Dowell,
Cynthia Harvey and Victor Barbee

The Informer
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Music: Celtic tunes
ABT World Premiere: March 15, 1988
Based on both Liam O'Flaherty's 1925 novel and the 1935 film directed by John Ford, this tale of an Irish nationalist’s betrayal, during the Time of Troubles from 1916 to 1921, to the British police force known as the Black and Tans is told with a brilliant melding of Celtic music and folk steps to generate searing emotion.

Pictured: Kathleen Moore and Victor Barbee

The Informer

Pictured: Johan Renvall

The Informer

Pictured: Kathleen Moore

Romeo and Juliet
Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
ABT Premiere: January 3, 1985
Against a sumptuous setting in Renaissance Italy, MacMillan weaves a dance tapestry rich in character nuance and sensuality, and Sergei Prokofiev’s instantly recognizable music underscores the lyric beauty and passion of this beloved ballet’s star-crossed lovers.

Pictured: Leslie Browne and Robert La Fosse

Romeo and Juliet

Pictured: Natalia Makarova and Kevin McKenzie

Romeo and Juliet

Le Corsaire
Choreography by Konstantin Sergeyev after Marius Petipa
Music by Adolphe Adam, Césare Pugni, Léo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo, and Prince Oldenbourg
ABT Premiere: June 19, 1998
A journey across the high seas, Le Corsaire fills the stage with a fantasy tale of pirates, captive maidens, love and betrayal, as the dashing Conrad, with the help of his slave Ali, fights to save the beautiful Medora.

Pictured: Julie Kent, Ethan Stiefel and Angel Corella

Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan
Music by Jules Massenet
ABT Premiere: May 28, 1993
From the ornate salons of Paris to the mysterious bayous of Louisiana, MacMillan's masterwork soars to searing heights as the courtesan Manon chooses between the temptations of wealth and true love.

Pictured: Diana Vishneva and Victor Barbee


Pictured: Diana Vishneva
and Marcelo Gomes

The Merry Widow
Choreography by Ronald Hynd
Music by Franz Lehár
ABT Premiere: June 6, 1997
With its intoxicating whirl of elegant ladies, eligible bachelors and ever-flowing champagne, this effervescent tale of suitors seeking the coveted hand of a wealthy widow in Belle Epoque Paris exudes an irresistible charm. Hynd perfectly captures the humor and romance of Franz Lehár's celebrated operetta, staged with opulent sets and gorgeous costumes.

Pictured: Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes

The Red Shoes
Choreography by Lar Lubovitch
Music by Jule Styne
ABT Premiere: May 2, 1994
The Red Shoes, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, tells the story of a girl danced to death by scarlet slippers, a symbol of erotic pleasure, luxury and freedom.

Pictured: Kathleen Moore and Keith Roberts

Othello: A Dance in Three Acts
Choreography by Lar Lubovitch
Music by Elliot B. Goldenthal
ABT World Premiere: May 23, 1997
Shakespeare’s gripping tale of jealousy and betrayal provides the inspiration for Lubovitch’s passionate choreography and Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal’s original score. This psychological thriller reaches its inevitable, heartbreaking climax as the brooding commander Othello succumbs to the sinister Iago’s machinations.

Othello: A Dance in Three Acts

Pictured: Marcelo Gomes

Othello: A Dance in Three Acts

The Other
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Music by Franz Schubert
ABT World Premiere: April 3, 1992
De Mille’s final ballet, The Other, embodies the theme of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, with the allegorical figures of “The Maiden” and “The Lover” representing vitality, love and youth, and “The Other,” a personification of Death with his inevitable pull and attraction.

Pictured: Victor Barbee, Amanda McKerrow and Roger Van Fleteren

The Dream
Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Music by Felix Mendelssohn
ABT Premiere: May 24, 2002
Based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ashton captures this comedy of mistaken identity through inventive choreography, which includes a male dancer, as the donkey, dancing en pointe - a technique normally reserved only for female roles.

Pictured: Daniil Simkin

The Dream

Xiomara Reyes and
Julio Bragado-Young

La Fille mal Gardée
Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Music by Ferdinand Hérold
ABT Premiere: May 31, 2002
Inspired by the Suffolk countryside, Ashton’s final full-length ballet, La Fille mal Gardée, displays his virtuoso choreography, laced with good humor and a whirl of dancing chickens, grouchy guardians and a halfwit suitor, incorporating a number of traditional English folk dances.

Pictured: Guillaume Graffin

La Fille mal Gardée

Pictured: Xiomara Reyes and
Angel Corella

Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Music by Léo Delibes
ABT Premiere: June 3, 2005
Ashton’s Sylvia, the story of a nymph huntress pierced by Eros’ arrow, features the incomparable music by Léo Delibes. Upon hearing the score, Tchaikovsky wrote “Never before has there been a ballet with such grace, such melodic and rhythmic richness, such superlative scoring…If I had known this music earlier, I would not have written Swan Lake.”

A Month in the Country
Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Music by Frédéric Chopin
ABT Premiere: May 21, 2013
Set in an 1850 Russian country home, Natalia longs to escape the stifling world and the restrictions imposed by her social class and position, surrendering herself to her son’s young tutor who is forced to leave when their affections are discovered.

Pictured: Julie Kent and Guillaume Cote

Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
ABT Premiere: June 9, 2014
Ashton’s Cinderella is a stage fantasy of the timeless rags-to-riches fairy tale. Colorful characters abound, including the gloriously grotesque stepsisters portrayed, as is the tradition, by male dancers.

Pictured: Hee Seo


Pictured: Craig Salstein,
Clinton Luckett and Roman Zhurbin


Pictured: Xiomara Reyes and
Joseph Gorak

The Green Table
Choreography by Kurt Jooss
Music by F.A. Cohen
ABT Premiere: October 21, 2005
Created in the aftermath of World War I, Jooss’s The Green Table is widely considered the most powerful antiwar statement of dance. It opens on masked diplomats around a table of regulation green cloth going through a grisly charade of negotiation until war is declared, with Death as an ever-present force.

The Green Table

Choreography by John Cranko
Music by P.I. Tchaikovsky
ABT Premiere: June 1, 2001
Pushkin’s celebrated verse-novel, Eugene Onegin, is interpreted with flawless storytelling skill by choreographer John Cranko. This compelling tale features an unusual twist of double unrequited love: while the high-handed Onegin at first spurns the young, naïve Tatiana, she blooms to become a sophisticated St. Petersburg aristocrat who, in turn, rejects his subsequent advances in a final crushing blow.

Pictured: Susan Jaffe and Carlos Molina

On the Dnieper
Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
ABT World Premiere: June 1, 2009
Ratmansky’s first ABT commission, On the Dnieper, depicts the Russian love story of a young soldier who arrives home to realize he is no longer in love with his fiancé, but instead with the village beauty who is betrothed to another.

Pictured: Marcelo Gomes, Veronika Part and Paloma Herrera

The Bright Stream
Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky
Music by Dmitri Shostakovich
ABT Premiere: January 21, 2011
The Bright Stream celebrates the illusory nature of love in all of its baffling, maddening detail with mistaken identities, hilarious deceptions and happy resolutions. During a harvest festival on a collective farm in the Russian steppes, a Moscow dance troupe arrives to entertain the workers, upsetting the applecart to humorous effect.

Pictured: Clinton Luckett, Susan Jones and Daniil Simkin

The Bright Stream

Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky
Music by Igor Stravinsky
ABT World Premiere: March 29, 2012
Using the entirety of Stravinsky’s first ballet score, The Firebird, Ratmansky reinvigorates the story of a hero searching for his lost love, with the aid of the magical Firebird, who helps our hero defeat the evil sorcerer Kaschei.

Pictured: Misty Copeland and Roman Zhurbin

The Sleeping Beauty
Choreography by Marius Petipa
Staging and additional choreography by Alexei Ratmansky
Music by P.I. Tchaikovsky
ABT World Premiere: March 3, 2015
Ratmansky looks to the future by drawing upon the past, recreating the original choreography based on Petipa’s own notation with Richard Hudson’s dazzling sets and costumes based on the original designs by Léon Bakst created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Pictured: Isabella Boylston

The Sleeping Beauty

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