Celebrating 50 Years at Lincoln Center

Spring 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of our home at Lincoln Center, which opened its doors in 1964 as the New York State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater).

At the time, dancers, choreographers, and critics all praised the new theater, designed specifically for dance by Philip Johnson with NYCB Founder George Balanchine’s input and the second building erected on the Lincoln Center campus following Avery Fisher Hall. The Company’s move to the pioneering arts and cultural complex began a new chapter not only for New York City Ballet but also for the ascent of American ballet as a distinct art form worthy of comparison to the great European and Russian ballet traditions. The state-of-the-art facility has since established itself as an international dance destination, and we celebrate this historic moment with events and activities during our spring performances.

Monday, April 21
Panel Discussion and Celebration Kick-Off

NYCB Members and Subscribers are invited to a discussion moderated by Anna Kisselgoff (former Chief Dance Critic for The New York Times) with special guests Kay Mazzo (Co-Chair of Faculty, School of American Ballet and former NYCB Principal Dancer), Tom Mellins (Independent Curator), Wendy Whelan (NYCB Principal Dancer), and Hugh Hardy (Architect). The panelists will discuss the theater’s impact on NYCB and its future, how performances changed from City Center to Lincoln Center, and Philip Johnson’s vision for the theater.

This invitation-only event for patrons and subscribers is sold out.


Tuesday, April 22
A Golden Anniversary: New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center

Join Lincoln Center President Jed Bernstein in a conversation with former NYCB Principal Dancer and School of American Ballet Faculty Member Suki Schorer and current NYCB Soloists Craig Hall and Megan LeCrone. This free, unticketed event takes place at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.

"When the Company moved to the new home in 1964, I was disapproving, because the design was such that one could not be close to the stage while looking down on the floor pattern of the dancers, which was so wonderful at City Center. However I soon found that the way the new stage allowed Mr. B to expand the ballets and the dancers' movements, more than compensated."
August Matzdorf, 
longtime NYCB patron


May 8 - June 8, 2014
50th Anniversary Exhibition

Curated by architectural historian and independent curator Tom Mellins, the 50th anniversary exhibition will celebrate both the landmark building and New York City Ballet's unique status as Lincoln Centers sole resident dance company. The exhibition is designed to enhance appreciation of the theater and explore the New York City Ballet's role as both a conservator of classical culture and an incubator of artistic creativity. Performance ticket holders are invited to view the exhibition before performances and during intermissions.

"I thought the theatre was the most beautiful, regal, space with those enormous jewels. I adored going all the way to the top floor at intermission and reaching out to the long strands of silver beads that curtained the windows and touching them ever so slightly to create a wave that cascaded to the bottom."
Janet Kaminski-Ronan
longtime NYCB patron

Thursday, May 8
Annual Spring Gala

This year’s spring gala, generously sponsored by Vacheron Constantin, will commemorate the Company’s extraordinary history with the inclusion of Allegro Brillante and other highlights from our inaugural Lincoln Center performance in 1964, and herald the future with a world premiere by NYCB Soloist Justin Peck, set to a commissioned score by renowned American composer Sufjan Stevens. A short film retrospective will be shown during the evening’s festivities, and Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins will recognize dancer alumni who performed with the Company in 1964.

"I was one of a small group of 14 year old girls from Linden, NJ who made the short trip to NYC during the 1964 opening season to see A Midsummer's Night Dream. I will always remember that day - climbing the steps to the theater that appeared suddenly at the top like a modern day Parthenon, sitting in the balcony overlooking the stage like a bejeweled necklace, our bright yellow tickets in hand."
Doris Gerner Coney, 
longtime NYCB patron


Monday, May 19
Seminar: Costumes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Please join us as NYCB Director of Costumes Marc Happel, milliner Rodney Gordon, and Principal Dancer Sara Mearns discuss the process of rebuilding more than 100 costumes from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The original costumes were designed by Barbara Karinska and huge efforts have been taken to faithfully reconstruct her creations and bring them back to their original color, luster, and beauty.

Monday, June 2
Seminar: Dancers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Principal Dancers Maria Kowroski and Joaquin De Luz discuss their experiences performing in George Balanchine’s superlative staging of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, along with special guests set designer David Hays and Edward Villella, a former NYCB principal dancer who originated the role of Oberon. Mr. Villella danced at both City Center and the New York State Theater and will offer his distinct insights into performing at both venues. Moderated by Principal Dancer Tyler Angle.

Seminars are free for New York City Ballet’s Circle of Friends. For membership information, please contact Member Services at members@nycballet.com or 212-870-5677.

"The New York State Theater provided Balanchine with the theater he deserved."
Joan Hartman, 
longtime NYCB patron

Inaugural Season Ballets

In addition to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, three other 1964 inaugural season ballets are on the schedule this spring: The Four Temperaments, Raymonda Variations, and Symphony in C.

For complete details on the spring repertory and to purchase tickets visit the calendar page or call 212-496-0600.

The celebration of New York City Ballet’s 50th Anniversary at Lincoln Center is made possible by leadership gifts from The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust and the Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Mary W. Harriman Foundation, Carl Jacobs Foundation, American Express, MetLife Foundation, and Merrill Lynch.

All photos on this page © Bob Serating, except Midsummer photos © Martha Swope