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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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