Four Seasons (Verdi/Robbins)
New Peck (Spring 2018) (Bernstein/Peck)
Other Dances (Chopin/Robbins)
Something to Dance About Bernstein, Bock, Gould, Rodgers, and Styne / Robbins, directed by Carlyle
SPAC’s New York City Ballet Gala will honor the centennial celebration of the birth of both Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein. The evening will feature two of Robbins’ own celebrated works, as well as Justin Peck’s Spring 2018 ballet, inspired by Robbins and set to a Bernstein score. The centerpiece of the summer soirée will be the finale performance and SPAC Premiere of a new piece directed by Tony Award-winning choreographer and director Warren Carlyle, which will celebrate the Broadway choreography of Jerome Robbins and have its World Premiere at NYCB’s 2018 Spring Gala.
Set to Giuseppe Verdi’s vibrant melodies, Jerome Robbins’ 1979 work THE FOUR SEASONS, translates the seasons into frosty flirtation, springtime awakening, sultry revelry, and autumnal bacchanal.
Jerome Robbins was a great admirer of the Russian stars Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who each famously defected and made new careers in America. OTHER DANCES, a pas de deux created in 1976 for a New York Public Library for the Performing Arts benefit, was specifically crafted to display their legendary technique and artistry. Robbins chose four mazurkas and one waltz by Chopin, the composer whose piano music had inspired him for Dances at a Gathering. Other Dances, through its simplicity and virtuosity, pays homage to both Chopin’s Romanticism and the fluidity of classical ballet technique.
SPAC’s New York City Ballet Gala will conclude with the SPAC Premiere of WARREN CARLYLE’s SOMETHING TO DANCE ABOUT, which pays tribute to the legendary Broadway career of NYCB’s co-founding choreographer Jerome Robbins. The ballet, set to have its World Premiere at NYCB’s 2018 Spring Gala performance on Thursday, May 3, will feature 30 NYCB dancers in a showcase of music and choreography from landmark Broadway musicals that Robbins was closely associated with during his storied career. Featuring excerpts of Robbins’ original choreography, with staging and direction by Carlyle, the ballet will be set to music and lyrics from iconic scores written during Broadway’s golden age by such artists as Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, Betty Comden, Morton Gould, Adolph Green, Sheldon Harnick, Oscar Hammerstein II, Bob Merrill, Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne, and Richard Rodgers. In addition to Carlyle, the creative team for the ballet will be comprised of a number of award-winning Broadway veterans including Rob Berman (musical arrangements), Jonathan Tunick (orchestrations), Beowulf Boritt (scenery), Toni-Leslie James (scenery), and Mark Stanley (lighting). Currently represented on Broadway with his choreography for the revival of Hello, Dolly!, Carlyle received 2014 Tony and Drama Desk awards for his choreography for the musical After Midnight, which he also directed.
About New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is one of the foremost dance companies in the world, with a roster of spectacular dancers and an unparalleled repertory. The Company was founded in 1948 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, and it quickly became world-renowned for its athletic and contemporary style. Jerome Robbins joined NYCB the following year and, with Balanchine, helped to build the astounding repertory and firmly establish the Company in New York.
New York City Ballet owes its existence to Lincoln Kirstein, who envisioned an American ballet where young dancers could be trained and schooled under the guidance of the greatest ballet masters. When he met George Balanchine in London in 1933, Kirstein knew he had found the right person for his dream. Balanchine traveled to America at Kirstein’s invitation, and in 1934 the two men opened the School of American Ballet, where Balanchine trained dancers in an innovative style and technique that matched his idea of a new, unmannered classicism.
In 1946 Kirstein and Balanchine formed Ballet Society and presented their new company at New York’s City Center of Music and Drama, which had been founded by Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Newbold Morris, and Morton Baum. After seeing a Ballet Society performance, Baum invited Balanchine and Kirstein’s fledgling company to officially join City Center. On October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet was born with a performance that featured Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C.
Balanchine served as Ballet Master of New York City Ballet from its inception until his death, in 1983, choreographing countless works and creating a company of dancers known for their linear purity, sharpness of attack, and overall speed and musicality. In 1949, Jerome Robbins joined the Company as associate director and, with Balanchine, created a varied repertory that grew each season. In 1964 NYCB moved into its current home at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater (formerly the New York State Theater), where it currently is on stage 21 weeks of the year. Each December, the Company presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, which has been performed every year since its premiere in 1954. In 1966, New York City Ballet performed at the opening ceremony for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in upstate New York; the Company has had a residency there every summer since. NYCB also tours regularly, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Following Balanchine’s death, in 1983, Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins were named Co-Ballet Masters in Chief, and from 1990 until he retired in 2017, Mr. Martins assumed sole responsibility for the Company’s artistic direction. In 2009 Katherine Brown was named NYCB’s first-ever Executive Director, a position created to oversee the administrative management of the Company. In 2015, Andrew Litton became the Company’s sixth Music Director. In December of 2017, an interim artistic management team led by NYCB Ballet Master and former Principal Dancer Jonathan Stafford was appointed to oversee the day-to-day artistic management of the Company. Joining Stafford on the interim team are NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck, as well as Ballet Masters Craig Hall and Rebecca Krohn. Widely acknowledged for its enduring contributions to dance, NYCB is committed to promoting creative excellence and nurturing a new generation of dancers and choreographers.
Photo by Paul Kolnik