Christopher Wheeldon's second work for New York City Ballet, Scènes de Ballet, is set in a Russian ballet studio (designed by Ian Falconer), a slightly skewed classroom bisected by a barre and an imaginary mirror. The dancers — 62 School of American Ballet students ranging from the very young to the soon-to-graduate — are similarly divided between "real" dancers and their "reflections." This classically inspired ballet displays what one critic has called "a bracingly confident fusion of George Balanchine's structured clarity with the sunny lyricism of Frederick Ashton."
Stravinsky said his music for Scènes de Ballet was free of any literary or dramatic intentions and that "the parts follow each other as in a sonata or in a symphony in contrasts and similarities." He did, however, specify different dances for the 11 parts of his score. Stravinsky, who was living in Hollywood at the time, originally wrote Scènes de Ballet for a review called "The Seven Lively Arts," presented by showman Billy Rose at the Ziegfield Theatre in New York City on December 7, 1944. The leading roles were danced by Anton Dolin (who had choreographed the piece) and Alicia Markova. Since then, the score has been used by a number of choreographers, including John Taras (for New York City Ballet's 1972 Stravinsky Festival) and Frederick Ashton who, in 1948, created a ballet for Margot Fonteyn, Michael Somes and a corps de ballet.
Christopher Wheeldon, a soloist at New York City Ballet, was born in Somerset, England. He joined the Royal Ballet in 1991; that same year he won the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne competition. In 1993 he was invited to become a member of New York City Ballet's corps de ballet. In addition to his dancing, Mr. Wheeldon has choreographed works for New York City Ballet (Slavonic Dances, 1997), The Boston Ballet, the Colorado Ballet, Inc., the Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet.