Choreography by: George Balanchine

Music by: Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky

The first ballet Balanchine choreographed in America is a romantic work of immense sweep, set to a transcendent Tschaikovsky score.

Serenade is a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet George Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet’s repertory. Balanchine began the ballet as a lesson in stage technique and worked unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography. A student’s fall or late arrival to rehearsal became part of the ballet. After its initial presentation, Serenade was reworked several times. In its present form there are four movements: “Sonatina”, “Waltz”, “Russian Dance”, and “Elegy.” The last two movements reverse the order of Tschaikovsky’s score, ending the ballet on a note of sadness. Balanchine had a special affinity for Tschaikovsky. “In everything that I did to Tschaikovsky’s music,” he told an interviewer, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tschaikovsky who had helped me.”


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Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48 (1880)
March 1, 1935, American Ballet, Adelphi Theater, New York
Original Cast
Leda Anchutina, Holly Howard, Elise Reiman, Elena de Rivas, Sylvia Giselle (Gisella Caccialanza), Helen Leitch, Annabelle Lyon, Kathryn Mullowny, Heidi Vosseler, Charles Laskey, Ruthanna Boris

32 Min.
Costumes by
Jean Lurçat (1935); Candido Portinari for American Ballet Caravan (1941); uncredited (1948); Karinska (1952)
Set by
Original scenery by Gaston Longchamp; performed without décor from 1941
Lighting by
Jean Rosenthal (1948); Ronald Bates (1964); Mark Stanley (current production)