The New York City Ballet has long been an integral part of the dance world, influencing, inspiring and spurring off countless ballet companies around the world.
The History of the New York City Ballet
The NYCB was founded in the late 1940s by the now legendary choreographer, George Balanchine. Another dancer, Lincoln Kirstein, co-founded and Jerome Robbins was brought on as a choreographer. Just as how many other dance companies are formed, the NYCB was a spin off of earlier groups, in this case the School of American Ballet and Ballet Caravan.
The ballet company got its name when it got its start at the City Center of Music and Drama its first season. In time, it went on to get its own theatre, and two permanent shows - one at New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, and one at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Balanchine himself choreographed pieces for the company right on up until his death in the early 1980s. He had such a huge impact on the world of dance, that its name is often synonymous with ballet in the U.S. and Europe. Today, the NYCB is one of the most in-demand companies for young dancers to audition for, and it has risen up many greats. These include Gelsey Kirkland, Patricia McBride, and Mikhail Baryshnikov to name only a few.
The Ballet Today
The New York City Ballet continues to feature outstanding performances year round. Their 2009 season includes 41 ballets on 12 programs alone. The NYCB is notorious for their annual performance of The Nutcracker. Balanchine's choreography lives on, and is replicated in many other ballet companies as well.
With over 100 dancers and a 62-piece orchestra, the NYCB pulls out all the stops at every performance, leaving their audiences both inspired and awestruck. Subscriptions are available to those who love to frequent the ballet, and there are several themes of season tickets available. These include a series of ballet productions perfect for women to enjoy with their closest girlfriends, as well as a series for those who are new to the world of dance.
The NYCB has also marketed its great technique and physical agility through a series of workout DVDs and a book. You can purchase these through the ballet's official website, or by taking a ballet class in house if you happen to live in New York.
Becoming a Company Member
Since the NYCB is one of the most highly-regarded, elite companies in the United States, becoming a dancer can be a tough process. It is a well known fact in the ballet world that approximately 95% of the dancers currently in the company are chosen out of the School of American Ballet. Then, they become an apprentice for the company and eventually move on to larger dancing roles. The apprenticeship is by invitation only, and if you are not selected for this exclusive group, (which usually happens for dancers between the ages of 16 and 18), then chances are you will not be chosen for the company.
However, the only way to know is to try. Classes begin with very young children, and move on through adult master classes. Discipline and the ability to follow directions is the first step in becoming a child who studies with the School of American Ballet. There is much structure involved, and like any elite ballet school, there is a distinct competitive spirit. Students work extremely hard at their craft, often sacrificing many things to ensure their dreams become a reality.
Supporting the Ballet
If you are not a dancer yourself but love the arts, you can financially support the School of American Ballet or the NYCB. By becoming a supporter, you will have an all access pass to many things a typical ballet audience member will not. For more information, visit the supporter page of the NYCB's website.