New York City Ballet

The New York City Ballet was the dream of Lincoln Kirstein. In 1933, he got  George Balanchine to come to America to help start the school. However, they went through many struggles before they company was created. The school’s first performance was rescheduled because it rained, and their first tour was ended prematurely because of a problem with the manager and exchequer. During World War II, their efforts to create a company were put on hold while Kirstein served in the army, and Balanchine went to work at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a choreographer. After the war, the two formed Ballet Society, and presented their plans for their company to the New York City Center for Music and Drama. The finance committee chairman was impressed with one of the performances he saw, and suggested to Kirstein that he transform that performance into a New York City Ballet. Inspired by the chairman’s confidence, Kirstein promised him that within three years, he would give New York City the finest ballet company in America. With 90 dancers, the company is the largest dance organization in America today.


Erica Swilley


4 thoughts on “New York City Ballet

  1. I keep noticing a recurring theme of George Balanchine in all of these things we are researching. I have read more about him than Lincoln Kirstein who apparently had the idea for the New York City Ballet. It’s funny that their first performance was cancelled due to rain because I haven’t heard of many ballets that were performed outside, unless it was due to something like a transportation reason. I also find it very fascinating that the dream for the ballet was able to survive the war, and that the two were able to meet again afterwards and form the Ballet Society.

    Abby Jones

  2. George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein’s passion for ballet transcended many obstacles. Throughout many letdowns and even a war, their love of this beautiful art form fueled their desire to see it performed professionally. When they received the idea to start the NYCB, they were even more excited as America had yet to see a well developed and stylistic ballet come together. I find it inspiring that these two men were able to pursue their dreams and succeed- their efforts have even lasted into the 21st century.

    Mariah Bartelmez

  3. I learned a little about Kirstein and Balanchine in high school, but I never knew the obstacles the two had to overcome in order to begin NYCB. I do find it odd, though, that Balanchine is more widely associated with the New York City Ballet, given that it wasn’t even his original idea. Like Mariah said, it is inspiring that Kirstein found the drive to survive that terrible war so that he could begin a ballet company in New York City.

    Lana Rakestraw

  4. I think it is amazing that the New York City Ballet had such a rough beginning but still managed to be one of the largest ballet companies in the world. Balanchine’s perseverance is the reason that the ballet is still here today and we still are able to see the amazing performances they create. It would have been so easy for Balanchine to give up during the war, and America should be thankful that he didn’t.
    Mackenzie Randolph

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