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NYCB Vol. 8 No. 20 - 75th Anniversary of New York City Ballet

Updated: Apr 4

On October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet gave its first official performance at the City Center Theater. The program was all Balanchine. Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C. Tonight, NYCB will celebrate the exact date of the 75th Anniversary by performing this same program of Balanchine ballets. The Empire State Building will also be lit 'Balanchine Blue' tonight in celebration!

"The opening night was a gala occasion. The audience, which included Ballet Society subscribers as well as what some of them, with not too much grace, termed outsiders, realized that it was attending at an important function, the birth of what John Martin called in his review 'the first institutionalized ballet company in these parts.'"

— Anatole Chujoy, The New York City Ballet (affiliate link)

"The company's image was one of dedicated integrity."

(left) Concerto Barocco. Diana Adams (L) Tanaquil LeClercq (R). Photo by Roger Wood, 1950.

(center) Orpheus. Maria Tallchief (L), Nicholas Magallanes (C), Francisco Moncion (R). Photo by Fred Fehl, 1948.

(right) Symphony in C. Principal couples L-R: Maria Tallchief, Nicholas Magallanes, Tanaquil Le Clercq, Francisco Moncion, Jillana, ???, Patricia Wilde, ???


I spent a while searching for the right story to share for today, the 75th Anniversary of NYCB’s first performance. I was perusing the book “Tributes: Celebrating Fifty Years of New York City Ballet” (affiliate link) when I came across this ode to the corps de ballet titled, “To those Who Dance…and Wait.” I pulled some excerpts below. The author, Robert Kotlowitz, voices my sentiments about recognizing the contributions of every company member who has danced for NYCB—the same sentiment which prompted me to create a shirt to honor the 750+ dancers who built NYCB. I found it funny that he even mention’s Muriel Aasen’s name and how her last name guaranteed her a good spot when being listed alphabetically in the program. It’s funny that after 75 years, she’s maintained that position and is at the very top of my shirt design.

Today (and everyday) I share my deep love and admiration for this institution and everyone who has contributed to its success.

“New York City Ballet’s audience has always had its favorite dancers, those it liked, those it loved. Most, of course, were principals or soloists, but often—far more often than is usual in a dance company—these chosen few were members of the corps […] I do want to remind us of those who danced and waited, who remained corps members […]

“There was Muriel Aasen, for one, a sharp, flirtatious dancer whose double “A” assured her prime position in any listing of the corps. […]

“Of course, not every corps dancer has to aspire to principal status. How else would we have a corps? Those who choose to hold fast—for whatever reason—powerfully mark the company’s identity, probably more so than the world acknowledges. They have always made up a golden cluster. Long may they dance for City Ballet.”

Written by Robert Kotlowitz in 1998. Robert saw NYCB’s very first performance at City Center in 1948.

George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein holding Isamu Noguchi’s design for Orpheus’ lyre.

Photo by Frederick Melton, 1950.

Contains the names of all 750+ NYCB alumni in alphabetical order

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