NEW YORK — New York City Ballet will celebrate the achievement of its founder George Balanchine next year in an ambitious season honoring the 100th anniversary of the choreographer’s birth. The company will perform 54 Balanchine ballets during the 2004 winter and spring seasons, across more than 110 performances.
The “Balanchine 100” celebration will include the first full-evening ballet for the company from Broadway choreographer Susan Stroman. Stroman’s ballet, set to music by Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson, will appear in the winter season (Jan. 6-Feb. 29) dedicated to exploring Balanchine’s “heritage.”
This season also will include performances of ballets by choreographers who influenced Balanchine, notably August Bournonville, Michel Fokine and Marius Petipa.
The Balanchine ballets in the winter season will come mostly from his early work, including “Apollo,” “Prodigal Son,” “Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2” and “Concerto Barocco.”
The inclusion of the Stroman ballet is a nod to Balanchine’s influential work on Broadway (he pioneered the use of the term choreographer). From that sphere of Balanchine’s work also comes “Slaughter on 10th Avenue,” an adaptation of the ballet from the Rodgers & Hart tuner “On Your Toes.”
The spring season, defined by Balanchine’s “vision,” includes most of the 42 ballets being danced by the company during the celebration that were created specifically for NYCB, the company Balanchine founded in 1948 with Lincoln Kirstein.
It will be divided into three music festivals: The three-week European music festival will include more than a dozen Balanchine ballets, as well as a new ballet by NYCB’s resident choreographer Christopher Wheeldon set to a commissioned score by Scottish composer James MacMillan. The two-week American music festival is lighter on Balanchine, but will include a dozen dances by Jerome Robbins and a new ballet by current NYCB topper Peter Martins.
Spring season concludes with a three-week festival dedicated to the music of Russia, the country of Balanchine’s birth. Balanchine dances set to music by Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Glinka and Stravinsky will be performed alongside Martins and Robbins ballets and a new ballet by Russian choreographer Boris Eifman. The company also will host the Georgian State Dance Co. for two performances.
The company kicks off its extensive touring in support of the Balanchine centennial next month when it travels to St. Petersburg’s Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine trained. It also will perform in Copenhagen this summer. In 2004 the company will be seen in Washington, D.C., for an all-Balanchine festival, as well as California and Japan.