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NYCB Vol. 3 No. 23 - Apollo

Updated: Apr 4

(1/6) “Ballet began when Terpsichore touched Apollo’s finger, as on the Sistine ceiling God touches Adam’s, and inspired a pas de deux in which movement became form and bodies learned to speak and sing.”— Porter, 1972.

Apollo is the oldest ballet in NYCB repertory. Choreographed in 1928 for the Ballets Russes, it was not an immediate success. In 1937, Apollo was performed in America for the first time by Lew Christensen. It wasn’t until it was revived in 1957 for Jacques D’Amboise that it came to be regarded as the masterpieces that it is. (In part, owing to the costume change. Original costumes were designed by Coco Chanel. In 1957, the current design of practice clothes was implemented).

(top left) Alice Nikitina and Serge Lifar, 1928. (First production with the Ballets Russes)

Photo by Roger Violett.

(top center) Daphne Vane and Lew Christensen, 1937. Photo by Richard Tucker. (First American production)

(top right) Suzanne Farrell and Jacques D’Amboise, 1967. Photo by Martha Swope.

(bottom left) Patricia McBride, Balanchine, and Jean-Pierre Frohlich, 1980. Photo by Martha Swope.

(bottom center) Heather Watts and Sean Lavery, 1986. Photo by Martha Swope.


(2/6) Apollo marked the first collaboration between Balanchine and Stravinsky. In a rare moment of self-reflection, Balanchine wrote, “Apollo I look back on as the turning point of my life. In its discipline and restraint, in its sustained oneness of tone and feeling, the score was a revelation. It seemed to tell me that I could dare not to use everything, that I, too, could eliminate. In studying the score, I first understood how gestures, like tones in music and shades in painting, have certain family relations. Since working with Stravinsky on this ballet, I have developed my choreography inside the framework such relations suggest.”

(top left) Peter Martins, Suzanne Farrell, Maria Calegari, Kyra Nichols, 1982.

(top center) Jacques D’Amboise, Melissa Hayden, Patricia Wilde, and Diana Adams, 1957.

(top right) Jacques D’Amboise, Diana Adams, Francia Russell, Jillana, 1959.

(bottom left) Ib Andersen, Suzanne Farrell, Kyra Nichols, Maria Calegari, 1985.

(bottom center) Peter Martins, Heather Watts, Kyra Nichols, 1980.


Check out the Apollo Ornament in the shop:

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