Tuesday 21 April would have been the opening night of the New York City Ballet's now-cancelled 2020 Spring Season.
The NYCB digital season will offer six weeks of all-new content, six days a week, Monday until Saturday, until 30 May.
In addition to releases of ballet performances on Tuesday and Friday evenings at 8pm (EDT), NYCB will also release new episodes of City Ballet the Podcast. There are two series of educational workshops—Ballet Essentials, for all ages, and Ballet Breaks, for children ages 3 to 8. There will also be Wednesday with Wendy, a series of ballet-inspired movement classes taught by NYCB Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan.
The programming for the digital season will feature complete ballets and excerpts, with Tuesday releases devoted to repertory by the Company's co-founding choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and Friday releases devoted primarily to contemporary works by some of today's most exciting choreographers.
The ballets and excerpts that will be shown have been curated by NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford, Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, and Resident Choreographer and Artistic Advisor Justin Peck, and will include performance footage from more than 20 ballets filmed during live performances in recent seasons at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Each episode will also feature an introduction by one of NYCB's artists, including artistic staff, choreographers, dancers, and musicians.
While it was extremely disappointing to cancel our spring season performances at Lincoln Center, we are thrilled that we can offer an online selection of works from our unparalleled repertory of ballets, performed by our incredible dancers and musicians. I know that our long-time audience members will recognize many of their favourites, and I am also excited that people from around the world who have never seen the Company perform live will now be able to experience our performances through this digital season.
The first instalment on Tuesday 21 April, will feature a performance of George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante that was filmed on 18 January 2017, featuring Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette in the principal roles, with an introduction by Stafford. Set to Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 75, Balanchine once said of the work, “it contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes.”
The second night of programming on Friday 24 April will feature the World Premiere performance of Justin Peck's Rotunda, which took place on 26 February 2020, set to a commissioned score by composer Nico Muhly. NYCB's most recent premiere, which features a cast of 12 dancers, Rotunda was also scheduled to be performed at Sadler's Wells in London last month as part of a festival of choreography to music by Muhly, which was also cancelled due to the current coronavirus pandemic. Muhly will introduce the 24 April episode. Originally captured for use in short excerpts for promotional purposes only, the ballet footage will now be shared with the public for the first time ever with the cooperation of the labour unions for the Company's artists, stagehands, and other behind-the-scenes personnel, as well as the rights holders for the choreography, music, sets, costumes, and lighting design.
While the footage was not originally meant to be broadcast in this format, NYCB's marketing and media department has done an extraordinary job, while working remotely, to prepare and stream this digital season.
Additional repertory for the digital season will feature performances by all of the Company's current roster of Principal Dancers in works by choreographers Kyle Abraham, Mauro Bigonzetti, Alexei Ratmansky, Gianna Reisen, Pam Tanowitz, and Christopher Wheeldon.
For updates on programming visit nycballet.com/digitalspring throughout the course of the six-week season.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.