Music: By Anton Rubinstein (Romance in E-flat, Op. 44, no. I, for voice and piano, danced to piano and violin).
Choreography: By George Balanchine.
Premiere: 1920?, concert at Theater (Ballet) School, Petrograd.
Cast: Olga Mungalova, George Balanchine.
Note: Balanchine remembered this as the first work he choreographed, although the date of its premiere has not been established. Mikhail Mikhailov, a contemporary of Balanchine's at the official ballet school in St. Petersburg/Petrograd, suggests in My Life in Ballet that it may have been created as early as 1917-18. Mungalova's unpublished memoirs describe her performance of this dance with Balanchine at the ballet school in the summer of 1920. She danced it with Pëtr Gusev at the school graduation performance of 1920 or 1921. As Romance, the ballet was presented on June 1, 1923, at the first performance of the Young Ballet, the company created by Balanchine, Gusev, Vladimir Dimitriev, Boris Erbshtein, and Yuri Slonimsky; it was also in the repertory of the Principal Dancers of the Russian State Ballet, the small troupe led by Balanchine and Dimitriev on tour in Germany during the summer of 1924. The work was performed for many years in the Soviet Union after Balanchine's departure.
Gusev, Alexandra Danilova, and Vera Kostrovitskaya (two other members of the Young Ballet) have noted that La Nuit was unusual for the times; Kostrovitskaya called it a 'lyrical duet of restrained passion--half poses, half arabesques . . . with tender passages of adagio,' while Gusev and Danilova both remarked on its 'sexy nature' and Gusev called it a 'direct imitation of the early Goleizovsky.'
The woman's costume was also unusual: a tunic (not customarily worn with toe shoes) and loose hair tied with a ribbon (Slonimsky, pp. 63, 67; Danilova, p. 44).