Masters at Work: Balanchine & Cunningham
Witness ballet performances by two of America’s greatest choreographers, George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham. Marking the 100th birth anniversary of Cunningham, the New York City Ballet is all set to perform one of his greatest and most characteristic works, Summerspace. Do not miss Balanchine’s delightful masterpieces, set to Peter Tchaikovsky’s melodies!
Why Watch Masters at Work: Balanchine & Cunningham
Serenade by George Balanchine was his first work in America. It captures the feeling of having nothing, just as Balanchine did, in 1924 when he escaped from Russia. A struggling ballet choreographer, Balanchine set out to make a ballet titled Serenade, where 17 girls showed up for the first rehearsal. The following rehearsals saw the numbers drop to nine, and then six. Balanchine made sections for whoever showed up, without any soloist roles. He kept revising the ballet over the years until it became the masterpiece that it is today. Serenade is a story of hope, and exemplifies the American dream that anyone can become whoever they aspire to be!
Merce Cunningham was one of the most influential American choreographers and a pioneer of American modern dance. Renowned for his avant-garde style of dance, his influence continues to be felt today. Cunningham often collaborated with experts of other disciplines, including designers, musicians, architects and artists. He often employed random procedures to generate material for his choreography, which was the exact opposite of the traditional practices of form and narratives. He often broke the boundaries of onstage performance and focused on non-representational choreography that did not have any narrative, emotion or idea attached to it.
The first performance is Balanchine’s Serenade. A beloved classic, the ballet is the perfect embodiment of Balanchine’s limitless creative genius. His confluence of rhythmic accuracy in Romanticism is spectacular to see, and you will understand what sets him apart from other choreographers of his generation. The dynamics and passion of Balanchine can be seen in the structural detail of the movements, and the pure dance patterns introduce a significant amount of variation such that the audience is never bored.
Summerspace features contemporary and avant-garde dance styles set to Morton Feldman’s suspenseful score. The dancers are decked in costumes with small brightly coloured dots, and the ever-changing choreographic patterns are a sight to behold. The use of pauses and whirls of activity fits very well with the rustles, twitters, and chirps of the music, making for a unique performance.
The third performance is Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, which is much more classical in style than the previous ballet. Balanchine’s stellar technique and variations can be seen performed, and it becomes easy to see why he is known as the father of American Ballet.
Ballet Buffs | Lovers of Merce Cunningham | Fans of George Balanchine
Know Before You Go
Suitable for all ages. No entry for children below age 4.
The David H. Koch Theatre has a seating capacity of 2586.
Strictly prohibited. If you'd like to grab a meal before or after the show, check out our guide to the 30 Best Restaurants in the Theater District.
Smart and casual wear is recommended. Keep in mind, the theater is air conditioned throughout the year and can get a bit chilly.
Strict Cancellation Policy
This experience cannot be cancelled, amended or rescheduled.
You will receive your tickets along with your email confirmation shortly. You need to print the same and display it at the ticket counter.