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In 1946 Balanchine and Kirstein formed Ballet Society, presenting to small New York subscription-only audiences such new Balanchine works as The Four Temperaments (1946) and Orpheus (1948). On the strength Orpheus, praised as one of New York's premiere cultural events of the year, Morton Baum, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the New York City Center of Music and Drama, invited the company to join City Center (of which the New York City Drama Company and the New York City Opera were already a part). With the performance of October 11, 1948, consisting of Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C (created for the Paris Opera Ballet as Le Palais de Cristal the previous year), the New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine's talents had at last found a permanent home.
From that time until his death in 1983, Balanchine served as ballet master for the New York City Ballet, choreographing the majority of the productions the Company has introduced from its inception to the present day. An authoritative catalogue of Balanchine's output lists 425 works, beginning with La Nuit and ending with Variations for Orchestra (1982), a solo for Suzanne Farrell. In between, he created a body of work as extensive as it was diverse. Among his notable ballets were Firebird and Bourrée Fantasque (1949; Firebird restaged with Jerome Robbins in 1970); La Valse (1951); Scotch Symphony (1952); The Nutcracker (his first full-length work for the company), Western Symphony, and Ivesiana (1954); Allegro Brillante (1956); Agon (1957); Stars and Stripes and The Seven Deadly Sins (1958); Episodes (1959, choreographed with Martha Graham); Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and Liebeslieder Walzer (1960); A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962); Bugaku and Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1963); Don Quixote (in three acts) and Harlequinade (in two acts, both 1965); Jewels (called the first full-length plotless ballet,1967); and Who Cares? (1970). In June, 1972, Balanchine staged an intensive week-long celebration of Stravinsky. Of the twenty-one new works presented during the festival, eight were by Balanchine, including four major ones, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements, and Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Fée." Response to the Stravinsky Festival by critics and the public was overwhelming.
In 1975, Balanchine staged a second New York City Ballet Festival, this time a three-week homage to Ravel. This celebration produced sixteen new works by various choreographers, including Balanchine's Tzigane, Le Tombeau de Couperin, and Sonatine.
Over the next seven years, Balanchine added more than a dozen works to the New York City Ballet's repertory. First came Union Jack (1976), observing the U.S. Bicentennial by honoring Great Britain, followed by the lavish Vienna Waltzes (1977). Ballo della Regina and Kammermusik No. 2 were choreographed in 1978, Ballade, Robert Schumann's "Davidsbündlertänze," and Walpurgisnacht Ballet in 1980. Balanchine's last important work, a new version of Mozartiana (a ballet originally choreographed for Les Ballets 1933), was created for the Tschaikovsky Festival of 1981. In 1982 he directed the Stravinsky Centennial Celebration, but by then he was terminally ill.
Although it is for ballet choreography that he is most noted, Balanchine also worked in musical theater and movies. On Broadway, he created dances for Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 and On Your Toes, including the groundbreaking "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" ballet (1936); Babes in Arms (1937); I Married an Angel and The Boys from Syracuse (1938); Louisiana Purchase and Cabin in the Sky, co-choreographed with Katherine Dunham (1940); The Merry Widow (1943); and Where's Charley? (1948), among others. His movie credits include The Goldwyn Follies, with its famous "water nymph" ballet (1938); I Was an Adventuress (1940); and Star Spangled Rhythm (1942). All starred Vera Zorina.
Embracing television, Balanchine staged many of his ballets (or excerpts) and created new work especially for the medium: in 1962, he collaborated with Stravinsky on Noah and the Flood and in 1981 redesigned his 1975 staging of L'Enfant et les Sortilèges to include a wide range of special effects, including animation. Through televison, millions of people have been able to see the New York City Ballet. "Choreography by Balanchine," a five-part "Dance in America" presentation on the PBS series "Great Performances," began in December 1977. Programs featured The Four Temperaments, Prodigal Son, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Chaconne, and segments of Jewels, among several others. Most are now available on video. Balanchine traveled to Nashville with the Company for the tapings in 1977 and 1978 and personally supervised every shot, in some cases revising steps or angles for greater effectiveness on screen. The series was widely applauded by critics and audiences all over the country and was nominated for an Emmy award. In January 1978, the New York City Ballet participated in the acclaimed PBS series "Live from Lincoln Center," when Coppelia, choreographed by Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova in 1974, was telecast live from the stage of the New York State Theater. Eight years later, the Company appeared on another "Live from Lincoln Center" program, performing Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Apollo, Orpheus, Mozartiana, and Who Cares? are among other Balanchine ballets seen on national television.
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