A work of monumental scale with a magnificent finale, Vienna Waltzes is set in moonlit Austrian forests and the regal ballrooms of Vienna.
The waltz became popular in the late 1700s. It was banned at first by some authorities who thought it immoral for couples to dance so closely, but by the mid-1800s, it was accepted everywhere. The faster Viennese form, characterized by swift, gliding turns, expressed the vivacity, and brilliance of the Hapsburg court. The waltz was a dance form Balanchine revisited and explored often over his career, but never on as grand a scale as he did for the 1977 Vienna Waltzes. The ballet—Balanchine’s homage to the pleasures and delights of an age that epitomized imperial grandeur—transforms from sylvan forest glen to sassy dance hall to glittering society café to, at last, a majestic mirrored ballroom through Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s evolving scenery. The music selected for each section of the ballet is associated with the transformation of the waltz across society and over the years. The many elaborate costumes are the last that Karinska created for New York City Ballet. For most of the 20th century, first in Paris, and, after 1938, in New York, Karinska, who left Russia after the October Revolution, designed and created many legendary costumes for Broadway, ballet, and opera. As one of Balanchine’s longtime collaborators, she was for many years New York City Ballet’s principal costume-maker.
View a slideshow of images from Vienna Waltzes >