American Ballet

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Ballet company which emerged from the School of American Ballet. The SAB was founded by Kirstein, Balanchine, E. M. M. Warburg, and V. Dimitriev at the end of 1933 and opened in Jan. 1934. Its first student performance was given in Jun. 1934 in White Plains, New York, with a programme including Balanchine's Serenade. In Mar. 1935 the company gave a two-week season at the Adelphi Theater, New York, presenting seven ballets by Balanchine and with Dollar and Loring among the dancers. Though successful with the public, it was not well received by the critics. After a brief tour of NE America the company took up residence at the Metropolitan Opera House in autumn 1935 with Vilzak as premier danseur; the Christensen brothers and Erick Hawkins were also members. Balanchine created The Bat for the first season and in 1936 produced his controversial staging of Gluck's opera Orpheus and Euridice in which he placed the singers in the orchestra pit. In Apr. 1937 he mounted a Stravinsky Festival which featured Baiser de la fée, The Card Game (1st perf.), and Apollon musagète (all conducted by Stravinsky). In 1938 the company broke with the Met. over differences of artistic vision and remained inactive for three years, although during the period 1936–9 Kirstein organized the smaller group Ballet Caravan as a showcase for American choreography, which involved some of AB's dancers. In 1941 the company was reassembled at the invitation of Nelson A. Rockefeller and amalgamated with Ballet Caravan under the title American Ballet Caravan for a five-month tour of S. America. Balanchine was artistic director and the dancers included Caccialanza, L. Christensen, Dollar, Bolender, Magallanes, and Taras. Its repertory featured Ballet Imperial, Concerto Barocco, Billy the Kid, The Filling Station, and Apollon musagète. The company was closed down after the tour but Kirstein and Balanchine went on to found Ballet Society in 1946, which in 1948 evolved into New York City Ballet.

Subjects: Dance.

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