Union Jack

Choreography by: George Balanchine

Music by: Hershy Kay

A dazzling display of kilts and clans meets music-hall humor and a fleet of flirtatious sailors in Union Jack, a spectacle of 74 dancers and one beloved donkey.

Union Jack was created to honor the British heritage of the United States on the occasion of its Bicentennial. Part I is based on Scottish military tattoos and folk-dance forms performed in an open castle square. Part II is a music-hall pas de deux for the costermonger Pearly King and Queen of London, with two little girls and a donkey, danced before a drop suggesting Pollock's toy theaters. Part III is a series of variations employing hornpipes, sea songs, work chants, jigs, and drill orders of the Royal Navy, in a dockside setting. For the finale, hand flags signal 'God Save the Queen' in semaphore code as the Union Jack unfurls.


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Adapted from traditional British sources and commissioned by New York City Ballet: "Keel Row," "Caledonian Hunt's Delight," "Dance wi' My Daddy", "Regimental Drum Variations," Scottish theme from the Water Music by George Frederick Handel, "Amazing Grace," "A Hundred Pipers"; music-hall songs: "The Sunshine of Your Smile," "The Night the Floor Fell In," "Our Lodger's Such a Naice Young Man," "Following in Father's Footsteps," "A Tavern in the Town" (ca. 1890-1914); traditional hornpipe melodies and "Rule Brittania"
May 13, 1976, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater
Original Cast
Helgi Tomasson, Jacques d'Amboise, Sara Leland, Peter Martins, Kay Mazzo, Karin von Aroldingen, Suzanne Farrell, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, Victor Castelli, Bart Cook

58 Min.
Costumes by
Rouben Ter-Arutunian
Set by
Rouben Ter-Arutunian
Lighting by
Ronald Bates (original production); Mark Stanley (current production)