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World Premiere Ballet by Choreographer MAURO BIGONZETTI Added to Fall Season Programming In Honor of Principal Dancer MARIA KOWROSKI’s Final Season

Longtime Principal Dancer ABI STAFFORD to Perform Farewell Performance on September 26, 2021

The Travelers Companies, Inc. is the Global Sponsor of New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet will open its 2021-22 season on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 with a four-week Fall Season, presenting its first full-company, live performance in more than 19 months.  A highlight of the Fall will be the ninth edition of the Company’s annual Fall Fashion Gala on September 30, 2021, featuring two world premiere works and the choreographer/designer collaborations of Sidra Bell with Christopher John Rogers and Andrea Miller with Esteban Cortázar.

The Fall Fashion Gala premieres will feature music by four contemporary composers, including two women.  The Bell world premiere will include music by American composer Nicholas Britell, American composer Dosia McKay, as well as British composer Oliver Davis.   The new Miller piece will feature a commissioned score by Colombian-Canadian singer/songwriter Lido Pimienta, who will also perform.  Pimienta is only the second female composer in the Company’s history to create a commissioned score as well as the Company’s first-ever female composer of color.  Lighting for the new works will be designed by Mark Stanley for the new Bell and Nicole Pearce for the Miller premiere. 

Added to the repertory programming for the 2021 Fall Season will be a world premiere by Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, who will create a new work with Principal Dancer Maria Kowroski, in honor of her final season with the Company.  The work will premiere on September 22 at 7:30pm, with additional performances throughout the Fall Season.

In addition to the previously announced dancer retirements to take place during the 2021-22 Season, Principal Dancer Abi Stafford will retire, after more than 20 years with the Company, in a farewell performance on September 26, 2021 where she’ll dance Alexei Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons.


SIDRA BELL World Premiere

The Bell Fall Fashion Gala premiere will feature the music of three composers, Nicholas Britell, Oliver Davis, and Dosia McKay.  From Britell she will include “The Middle of the World,” a work from the composer’s critically acclaimed soundtrack for the film Moonlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017.  Oliver Davis’ music will be from the composer’s 2021 album Solace, which he created during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, working collaboratively, yet remotely, with soloists, ensembles, and authors from around the world.  From McKay, the Bell work will feature “Is Now Not Enough?” and “Unveiling,” with McKay arranging and editing the scores specifically for the premiere.

Two-time Academy Award-nominated and EMMY-winning composer and pianist Nicholas Britell is known for his scores on award-winning feature films, including Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award Best Picture winner Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk, and Adam McKay’s The Big Short and Vice. His most recent film work includes Disney’s box office hit Cruella and Netflix’s The King.

For television, Britell won an EMMY for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme as well as the 2018 Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score (TV Show/Limited Series) for HBO's Succession Season 1. Most recently, he scored Barry Jenkins’ critically acclaimed limited series The Underground Railroad, for which he received a nomination for an EMMY for Outstanding Music Composition.  Upcoming projects include Jenkins’ The Lion King for Disney, Succession Season 3, and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up for Netflix.

Britell is a Steinway Artist and is also a Creative Associate of the Juilliard School. In December 2018, it was announced that Britell would be part of Esa-Pekka Salonen's newly formed creative collective - "brain trust" as Salonen took the reins as music director of the San Francisco Symphony. Britell’s public performances have included concerts at London’s Barbican Hall, the Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles, Chicago’s Ravinia, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Britell is an honors and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, as well as a piano performance graduate of the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. He returned in May 2016 as the Pre-College's commencement speaker.

Oliver Davis studied at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating in 1994. Following success scoring films and television shows his debut classical album, Flight, was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and released in March 2015, quickly rising to number 2 in the UK Classical Charts. Several pieces from the album Flight have been used for a ballet choreographed by Ma Cong for the Tulsa Ballet Company. Further album releases include Seasons, Dance, and Liberty, all of which charted in the UK top 10 and were Album of the Week on Classic FM. Various pieces from Dance and Flight were used to create the ballet dance odyssey, choreographed by Peter Walker and performed by New York City Ballet. Following the ballet’s premiere in February2018, The New York Times described the music as ‘charming, lyrical, Arcadian’.

Pieces from Liberty formed a new ballet Bacchus, choreographed by Matthew Neenan for Pacific Northwest Ballet and premiered in March 2019. Davis’ next album, Arcadia, featured The Infinite Ocean, a ballet choreographed by Edwaard Liang which was commissioned and premiered by San Francisco Ballet. In September 2019, they premiered Lineage at New York City Ballet’s Fall Fashion Gala, which featured costumes designed by fashion icon Anna Sui. Davis and Liang’s latest collaboration includes a new ballet for Pacific Northwest Ballet which premiered in June 2021. 

Davis’ latest album, Solace, was released in March 2021 and reached 12 in the Billboard Charts and received over a million streams within a few months of release.

Dosia McKay is an American composer of music for the concert stage, film, and modern dance. A versatile sound colorist, McKay fluently weaves elements of classical harmony, avant-garde, ambient soundscapes, and her own visual art into the fabric of her compositions. Her portfolio includes works for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, choir, soloists, as well as electro-acoustic installations. She is equally at home writing for live performers and traditional instruments as she is modulating the parameters of her software synthesizers.

Many of her earlier works exhibit a type of Slavic nostalgia expressed by introspective, minor tonalities, and lyrical melodies. (She was born and raised in Poland and has lived in the United States for over twenty-five years). However, in recent years, she has been drawn toward more ambiguous sonic landscapes reflective of her own abstract paintings.

McKay’s music has been featured on National Public Radio and in concerts in New York, Festival Gdynia Classica Nova in Poland, Beijing Modern Music Festival in China, Spain, France, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Electro-Music Festival in Asheville, the Diana Wortham Theater in Asheville, and others.

Notable performers include the North/South Consonance Orchestra of New York, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, the Polish avant-garde string quartet NeoQuartet, the Polish Orpheus Orchestra, Pan Harmonia, Spartanburg Philharmonic String Trio, Asheville Ballet, Baroque lutenist Will Tocaben, Argentine guitar virtuoso Sergio Puccini, and others.

Her new album Groundless was released in June.

Mark Stanley will design the lighting for the Bell premiere.  The Resident Lighting Designer for New York City Ballet, Stanley has designed over 190 premieres for the repertory, including Paul McCartney’s Ocean’s Kingdom.  He has worked with numerous choreographers, including Peter Martins, Susan Stroman, Chris Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Kevin O’Day, William Forsythe, Christopher d’Amboise, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Ulysses Dove, Lar Lubovitch, and Laura Dean. In addition, his designs are in the repertories of the Royal Danish Ballet, Het Nationale Ballet, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, San Francisco Ballet, The Mannheim National Ballet, The Norwegian Opera Ballet, Boston Ballet, The Berlin Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, The Joffrey Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Pennsylvania Ballet, and numerous other regional ballet companies. Stanley previously served as Resident Lighting Designer for New York City Opera, lighting over 20 new productions for the resident and touring companies. Additional opera credits include Wolf Trap Opera, Virginia Opera, Tulsa Opera, New Orleans Opera, Kentucky Opera, and others. Stanley’s work for theater includes lighting design for The Kennedy Center, The Long Wharf Theater, Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse, The Blue Light Theater Company, and off-Broadway, including Curse of the Starving Class. His designs have been seen nationally on PBS for Live from Lincoln Center and Great Performances.

ANDREA MILLER World Premiere

The Miller premiere will feature a commissioned score by Lido Pimienta, who will perform live on stage with the Company for each performance.

Lido Pimienta is an Afro-Indigenous, Canadian-Colombian, GRAMMY-nominated and Polaris Prize-winning interdisciplinary artist, musician and curator. Widely acclaimed for her mind-bending multi-textural vocal arrangements, Pimienta has performed and exhibited around the world since 2002, fearlessly confronting the powers that be with a special kind of sweetness, all while putting Afro-Indigenous traditions at the forefront and exploring wider politics of race, gender, motherhood, and identity. 

In 2020, she released Miss Colombia on ANTI- Records, a stunning follow-up to her Polaris-Prize Winning debut album La Papessa, which was the first non-English or French language album and fully independent release to win the $50,000 prize in its history. Miss Colombia is a groundbreaking album in many senses, from its limitless combination of sounds to its fearless lyrics, an album that confronts the complexity of her lived experience and the places she comes from. Miss Colombia was praised from the New York Times to Pitchfork, and eventually nominated for both a Latin GRAMMY and a GRAMMY, the latter of which saw her included as a performer at the 2020 GRAMMY Premiere ceremony. 

In the last year alone, despite all global limitations, Pimienta has continued to push her own creative boundaries through collaborations and other mediums. She’s recently collaborated with Ricky Reed (Lizzo, Leon Bridges), as well as the Colombian band Bomba Estéreo as a producer on their forthcoming album. Pimienta is also a prolific visual artist, with practices in drawing to sculpture and beyond, frequently donating portions of the proceeds from her creations to various social causes in her native Colombia. 

Nicole Pearce will design the lighting for the Miller premiere.  Pearce is a multidisciplinary artist living in Queens, NY. Her work has been seen across the United States, Cuba, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Russia. The New York Times has stated: “The glow of Nicole Pearce’s lighting on center stage creates a feeling of magic, as if the dancers are circling an unseen grail.” Selected dance credits include work with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, Dance Heginbotham, Dance Theater of Harlem, Gallim, Houston Ballet, Hubbard Street, Joffrey Ballet, Malpaso, Mark Morris Dance Group, & Nederlands Dance Theater. Selected theater and opera credits include work with Arena Stage, Arizona Opera, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theater, McCarter Theater, Minnesota Opera, The Play Company, The Playwrights Realm, Philadelphia Theater Company, Opera Montreal, and Pittsburgh Public Theater. Her installation of 1,000 paintings entitled Tiny Paintings for Big Hearts will be open to doctors, nurses, staff, and patients of Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, NY in September 2021.


In honor of Principal Dancer Maria Kowroski’s final season with the company, Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti will create a new ballet to premiere on September 22 at 7:30pm, with additional performances on September 25 at 8pm, September 26, September 29, October 2 at 8pm, and October 9.  The new work will be set to Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D Minor (K. 32), performed on piano.  This will be the fifth featured role Bigonzetti has created for Kowroski, having featured her in every other ballet he’s made for NYCB, which includes Vespro (2002), In Vento (2006), Oltremare (2008), and Luce Nascosta (2010).

Mauro Bigonzetti was born in Rome and trained at the Rome Opera Ballet School, becoming a company member of the Rome Opera Ballet in 1978. In 1982, he joined Aterballetto, where he danced works by Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylián, Leonide Massine, and Antony Tudor. In 1990, Bigonzetti created his first work, Sei in movimento, set to music by J. S. Bach. He has made ballets for an international roster of companies including New York City Ballet, English National Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Bolshoi Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, La Scala Ballet, and Rome Opera Ballet, among others. In 1997 Bigonzetti was named artistic director of Aterballeto, a position he held until 2008; he continued to choreograph for Aterballetto as resident choreographer until 2012. Bigonzetti was the director of La Scala Ballet from March until October of 2016.


After more than 20 years with New York City Ballet, Principal Dancer Abi Stafford will give her final performance on Sunday, September 26 at 3pm.  For her farewell performance Stafford, who originated roles in nearly all of Alexei Ratmansky's works for the Company, will perform Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons. 

Stafford graduated from Fordham University in 2018 with a degree in History. She is currently pursuing a law degree at Fordham University School of Law and plans to work at a criminal defense firm.


Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Stafford began her dance training at the age of six with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary.  She entered the School of American Ballet full time in the fall of 1998 and was invited to become an apprentice with NYCB in 1999 and joined the corps de ballet in 2000. She was promoted to the rank of soloist in 2002 and to principal dancer in 2007. Since joining NYCB, she has performed featured roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Angelin Preljocaj, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. Her awards include the 2000 Janice Levin Dancer award.


For complete programming information for the 2021-22 repertory season visit nycballet.com.


Leadership support for new work is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Ted and Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, Estate of Harlan Morse Blake, and donors to the New Combinations Fund.


Support for new work by female choreographers is provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. 

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