1980-1989

Pre-NYCB     1948 - 1959     1960 - 1969     1970 - 1979     1980 - 1989     1990 - 1999     2000 - 2009     2010 - Present

1980

The Company participates in Stravinsky festivals in Berlin and Paris.

Ib Andersen, formerly of the Royal Danish Ballet, joins as Principal Dancer.

New ballets include Robbins' Suite of Dances and Rondo, Martins' Eight Easy Pieces and Lille Suite, and Balanchine's Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze.

At the instigation of Balanchine, New York City Ballet donates the proceeds of its April 29 benefit performance to assist in the purchase of protective vests for New York City police officers.

Balanchine, Bates, and Perry Silvey, with financial assistance from the Kresge Foundation, develop an innovative, widely copied portable dance floor for touring.

1981_Mozartiana
Mozartiana
Kyra Nichols, Nikolai Hübbe
Photo © Paul Kolnik

1981

The Company makes its first visit to Fort Worth, Texas.

In June, New York City Ballet honors Russian composer Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky with a two-week Tschaikovsky Festival, which, in addition to repertory ballets, includes 12 new works by Balanchine, Jacques d'Amboise, Joseph Duell, Martins, Robbins, and Taras. The stage setting for the entire festival is made of translucent tubing designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee to be hung and lit in different architectural configurations.

For the Tschaikovsky Festival, Balanchine re-choreographs his 1933 Mozartzana.

For a Dance in America telecast, Balanchine, in collaboration with Kermit Love, re-conceives L'Enfant et les Sortileges, which he had set as his first commission from Diaghilev (1925), for the opening of Ballet Society (1946), and again for the Ravel Festival (1975).

Peter Martins is named Ballet Master, joining George Balanchine, Jerome Robhins, and John Taras.

1982

The 100th Anniversary of Stravinsky's birth inspires Balanchine to present a Stravinsky Centennial Celebration. It comprises 10 evenings of past masterworks as well as new ballets by Balanchine, Lew Christensen, Jacques d'Amboise, Martins, Robbins, and Taras. The Philip Johnson-John Burgee tubing created for the Tschaikovsky Festival is used again. Noah and the Flood is given its first stage presentation by Balanchine, assisted by Jacques d'Amboise. The ballerina Vera Zorina collaborates with Balanchine and Taras on Persephone, in which she also plays the title role.

Live from Lincoln Center telecasts Apollo and Orpheus.

Darci Kistler is promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer.

The New York State Theater undergoes a major acoustical renovation made possible by The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.

Martins-Robbins
Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins
Photo uncredited

1983

Balanchine dies on April 30 in New York at the age of 79, following a long illness.

Robbins and Martins assume positions of Co-Ballet Masters in Chief.

The Company dances in London, Copenhagen, and Paris.

Robbins' Glass Pieces premieres in May.

December 6 marks the 1,000th performance of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™, and Martins dances his final performance.

Maria Calegari is promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer. Valentina Kozlova and Leonid Kozlov, both formerly with the Bolshoi Ballet, join the Company as Principal Dancers.

The National Endowment for the Arts awards the Company a Challenge Grant of $1,000,000, to be matched in the ensuing three years.

The Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for Lincoln Center, established by the co-founders of Reader's Digest, makes the first of its annual leadership grants to the Company in support of new productions.

1984_Walzer
Liebeslieder Walzer
Miranda Weese, Damian Woetzel,
Pascale van Kipnis, Nikolaj Hübbe
Photo © Paul Kolnik

1984

Liebeslieder Walzer, absent for some time, is reintroduced on May 24. New designs by David Mitchell follow ideas discussed by Balanchine and Kirstein many years earlier; Karinska's costumes are retained. It is the first of five productions of Balanchine ballets to be restudied at the behest of Kirstein. Others are Gounod Symphony, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Swan Lake, and La Sonnambula.

A special two-part Dance in America telecast commemorates Balanchine's life and achievements. Works by Martins (Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, Eight Easy Pieces, and The Magic Flute) are also televised.

Robbins choreographs Antique Epigraphs, which premieres in February.

Twyla Tharp collaborates with Robbins on Brahms/Handel, which premieres in June.

Helgi Tomasson choreographs Menuetto for New York City Ballet.

Joseph Duell, Lourdes Lopez, and Stephanie Saland are promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer.

The Company pays its first visit to Minneapolis.

1934 SAB
Serenade
NYCB Ensemble
Photo © Paul Kolnik

1985

This year marks the anniversary of Serenade, which has been in continuous performance for 50 years.

Never before seen at the New York State Theater, Balanchine's Gounod Symphony is reconstructed for revival by former ballet mistress Vida Brown. Robin Wagner designs the new set, and the original Karinska costumes are reproduced.

New ballets are created by Martins (Poulenc Sonata, Valse Triste, Eight More, and Eight Miniatures), Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux (Shadows), and Robbins (Eight Lines and In Memory of...)

Christopher d'Amboise and Jock Soto are promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer.

At Robbins' initiative, New York City Ballet establishes a Dancers' Emergency Fund, for which there is to be a closing night benefit at the end of the winter season.

In April, Martins stages a special performance of We Are the World in support of USA for Africa.

1986

Settings for two ballets by Balanchine are redesigned: Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet by David Mitchell, and Swan Lake by Alain Vaës, who works closely with Kirstein, again following ideas projected by Balanchine.

Martins creates Songs of the Auvergne, which premieres in February.

Judith Fugate is promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer. Robert La Fosse, formerly with American Ballet Theatre, joins the Company as a Principal Dancer.

Special grants from AT&T, corporate sponsor of the tour, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Lawrence A. Wien enable New York City Ballet to travel to the West Coast for the first time in 14 years. The Company appears in Berkeley and Costa Mesa, California, and Seattle, Washington.

Dance in America produces Choreography by Jerome Robbins with the New York City Ballet, which is broadcast in May.

1987_Sonnambula
La Sonnambula
Sofiane Sylve, Peter Boal
Photo © Paul Kolnik

1987

On May 18, New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet join in celebrating Kirstein's 80th birthday with a special performance at the New York State Theater.

Martins choreographs Ecstatic Orange. Balanchine's La Sonnambula is revived and given a new production by Alain Vaës, who also provides new decor for Bournonville Divertissements.

On October 4 the Company participates in Dancing for Life, a benefit to help victims of AIDS.

Peter Frame is promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer. Lindsay Fischer, formerly a member of the Dutch National Ballet, joins the Company as a Principal Dancer.

Following a three-year sponsorship of "Ballet for Young People" matinee performances New York Telephone becomes the corporate sponsor of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™, ensuring preservation of this work and allowing its presentation to 1,000 New York City schoolchildren each year. It is the largest corporate contribution the Company has received.

1988

Bolshoi Ballet Principal Dancers Nina Ananiashvili and Andris Liepa perform as Guest Artists in February, in the first such collaboration between the Soviet Union and the United States.

1988_40anniversary
NYCB 40th Anniversary
Opening Night Gala Invitation

Under the direction of Martins, a three-week American Music Festival in honor of New York City Ballet's 40th Anniversary is presented during the Spring Season, from April 26 to May 15. Twenty-two world premieres are offered, including five ballets to newly commissioned scores, along with ballets in repertory, among them Robbins' Ives, Songs, presented earlier in the year. Choreographers represented are Christopher d'Amboise, Ib Andersen, Balanchine, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Bart Cook, Laura Dean, Joseph Duell, Eliot Feld, William Forsythe, Robert La Fosse, Lar Lubovitch, Miriam Mahdaviani, Martins, Robbins, Tanner, Paul Taylor, Violette Verdy, and Robert Weiss. Composers are drawn from the entire spectrum of 19th- and 20th-century music. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., is the corporate sponsor of the Company's 40th Anniversary American Music Festival.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for Lincoln Center, and The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation award leadership grants to the festival; other major contributions are made to the festival.

As New York City Ballet celebrates 40 years of existence, it begins its 89th New York season on November 22, 1988, with the original opening night program, consisting of Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C. It numbers 104 dancers.

On July 15, American Music Festival ballets premiere at Saratoga, along with Robbins' Ives, Songs.

In September, the Company departs for its first tour to Asia since 1958, two weeks and 13 performances at Tokyo Bay N.K. Hall in Japan.

For the 1988-1989 Winter Season, the Company initiates the NYCB Discovery Series to encourage children and their parents to explore the world of ballet.

1989

Two new Martins ballets premiere in February: Beethoven Romance and Mozart Serenade.

Also in February, New York City Ballet holds the fifth Dancers Emergency Fund Benefit. The 40th Anniversary program, "Forty Carats," is comprised of excerpts from 12 ballets spanning the Company's 40-year history.

May marks the 10th Anniversary of Ballet for Young People, celebrated with a free matinee for 2,500 students from all 32 New York school districts.

Ray Charles and the Raeletts return to New York City Ballet to perform Martins' American Music Festival ballet A Fool for You. The live performance was telecast on Live from Lincoln Center and was viewed by over 2.7 million households.

In June, Patricia McBride dances her farewell performance at the New York State Theater.

The Spring Gala performance honors Robbins' 70th birthday. The all-Robbins program includes The Concert, with six Principals in the "Mistake Waltz," and a special version of Circus Polka that concludes with 48 students forming the initials "J.R." in a floor pattern.

Echo, a new work by Martins, premieres in June, with music by composer Michael Torke. The Saratoga season features local premieres of Martins' Beethoven Romance, Mozart Serenade, and Echo.

Patricia McBride gives her farewell performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Valse Triste.

1989_Farrell
Vienna Waltzes
Suzanne Farrell
Photo © Paul Kolnik

In August, the Company embarks on a European tour, with one week in each of the following cities: Copenhagen, Glasgow, The Hague (Holland Dance Festival), and Paris (Festival International de Danse de Paris). After completing the tour, members of the Company return to Denmark for the filming of two Dance in America (PBS) segments, including Balanchine's Serenade and Western Symphony, and Martins' Sophisticated Lady and Valse Triste.

Peter Boal, Helene Alexopoulos, Damian Woetzel, and Gen Horiuchi are promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer. Robert Hill, formerly of American Ballet Theatre, joins the Company as Principal Dancer.

In November, Suzanne Farrell dances her final performance with New York City Ballet in Sophisticated Lady and Vienna Waltzes.