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Lincoln Kirstein meets George Balanchine in London and invites him to come to the United States to develop an American ballet school and company. Balanchine accepts and arrives in New York on October 17th.
Against the backdrop of the Depression, Balanchine and Kirstein, with the assistance of Edward M.M. Warburg, open the doors of the new School of American Ballet on January 2nd, at 637 Madison Avenue. The intention is that students from the School are to be trained as dancers who will become members of a company-to-be and that eventually a permanent existence might be sustained for such an undertaking.
In March, Balanchine choreographs Serenade on students who first perform it with the Producing Company of the School of American Ballet, formed in June.
The American Ballet is the first professional company to be founded by Balanchine and Kirstein. Serenade is in the small repertory, consisting of a selection from Balanchine's earlier ballets. The American Ballet is engaged by the Metropolitan Opera for three years to perform in opera ballets and on special ballet evenings. There, Balanchine produces his first festival, centering on Igor Stravinsky in 1937.
Kirstein organizes Ballet Caravan, a company expressly dedicated to the commission and production of ballets with American themes, to be created by American composers, choreographers, designers and dancers. Billy the Kid, with music by Aaron Copland, choreography by Eugene Loring, libretto by Kirstein, and scenery and costumes by Jared French, is a highlight. Balanchine begins to choreograph for Broadway musicals and in Hollywood, for which he uses American Ballet dancers.
Suzanne Farrell, Jacques d’Amboise
Courtesy of New York City Ballet Archives,
Ballet Society Collection
The two companies are merged by Balanchine and Kirstein to form the American Ballet Caravan. A long tour of South America is arranged by Nelson A. Rockefeller, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in Washington, D.C. Balanchine choreographs Concerto Barocco and Ballet Imperial.
After Kirstein returns from Army service in World War II, he and Balanchine again form a new company. Ballet Society, supported by private gifts and a subscription audience, offers four short seasons in two years; two take place in small theaters and two at the City Center Theater on West 55th Street. It has a completely new repertory by Balanchine as well as by young Americans. On the first night, November 20th, Balanchine's The Four Temperaments has its premiere.