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NYCB Vol. 3 No. 8 - Serenade

Updated: Apr 4

Although Serenade’s meaning has been subject to endless speculation since it was created 87 years ago—Mr. B himself even giving conflicting descriptions over the years—it seems clear that the ballet was autobiographical and intensely personal to Balanchine.

This series of photos captures the final tableau of Serenade over the years, the heroine floating to the upstage corner, chest lifted, arms opened. Toni shares in her book: “After Mr. B died, Karin von Aroldingen placed her hands into a rising prayer for him before opening her arms wide in surrender.” And now I can’t watch the end of the ballet without tears in my eyes imagining that ending every time. (affiliate link)

“The NYCB closing night ended on an unmistakably emotional note at the State Theater Sunday. The last ballet on the program was “Serenade” and the ovation that followed was not simply a tribute to the windswept performance by the dances. It was very obviously a tribute to Mr. Balanchine who died just 2 months ago.” — Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times, 1983.

(top left) Suzanne Farrell, 1968

(top center) Karin von Aroldingen, 1981

(top right) Mimi Paul, 1966

(bottom left) Allegra Kent, 1963

(bottom center) Unidentified dancer, 1960

(bottom right) Unidentified dancer, 1960

All photos by Martha Swope

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