New York City Ballet is one of the foremost dance companies in the world, with a roster of spectacular dancers and an unparalleled repertory. The Company was founded in 1948 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, and it quickly became world-renowned for its athletic and contemporary style. Jerome Robbins joined NYCB the following year and, with Balanchine, helped to build the astounding repertory and firmly establish the Company in New York.
New York City Ballet owes its existence to Lincoln Kirstein, who envisioned an American ballet where young dancers could be trained and schooled under the guidance of the greatest ballet masters. When he met George Balanchine in London in 1933, Kirstein knew he had found the right person for his dream. Balanchine traveled to America at Kirstein’s invitation, and in 1934 the two men opened the School of American Ballet, where Balanchine trained dancers in an innovative style and technique that matched his idea of a new, unmannered classicism.
In 1946 Kirstein and Balanchine formed Ballet Society and presented their new company at the City Center of Music and Drama in New York. After seeing a Ballet Society performance, the chairman of the City Center finance committee invited Balanchine and Kirstein’s fledgling company to officially join the performing arts center. On October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet was born with a performance that featured Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C.
Balanchine served as Ballet Master of New York City Ballet from its inception until his death, in 1983, choreographing countless works and creating a company of dancers known for their linear purity, sharpness of attack, and overall speed and musicality. In 1949, Jerome Robbins joined the Company as associate director and, with Balanchine, created a varied repertory that grew each season. In 1964 NYCB moved into its current home at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater (formerly the New York State Theater), where it currently is on stage 21 weeks of the year. Each December, the Company presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, which has been performed every year since its premiere in 1954. In 1966, New York City Ballet performed at the opening ceremony for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in upstate New York; the Company has had a residency there every summer since. NYCB also tours regularly, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Following Balanchine’s death, in 1983, Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins were named Co-Ballet Masters in Chief, and from 1990 until he retired in 2017, Mr. Martins assumed sole responsibility for the Company’s artistic direction. In 2009 Katherine Brown was named NYCB’s first-ever Executive Director, a position created to oversee the administrative management of the Company. In February of 2019, Jonathan Stafford was named Artistic Director of New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet, and Wendy Whelan was named Associate Artistic Director of New York City Ballet.