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Classical Ballet Ballets by George Balanchine: Agon. Symphony in C. Sylvia Pas de Deux. ! PREMIERE ! Serenade.
World famous Bolshoi Ballet and Opera theatre (established 1776) - Small Stage

Schedule for Ballets by George Balanchine: Agon. Symphony in C. Sylvia Pas de Deux. ! PREMIERE ! Serenade. 2022

Composer: Peter Tchaikovsky
Composer: Georges Bizet
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Choreography: George Balanchine

Orchestra: Bolshoi Theatre Symphony Orchestra


Ballet in one act
to music of Serenade for string orchestra by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Choreography by George Balanchine (1935)

"A serenade is a dance in the light of the moon"

Serenade was my first ballet in the United States. Soon after my arrival in America, Lincoln Kirstein, Edward M. M. Warburg, and I opened the School of American Ballet in New York. As part of the school curriculum, I started an evening ballet class in stage technique, to give students some idea of how dancing on stage differs from classwork. Serenade evolved from the lessons I gave.

… Many people think there is a concealed story in the ballet. There is not. There are, simply, dancers in motion to a beautiful piece of music. The only story is the music’s story, a serenade, a dance, if you like, in the light of the moon.

Because Tchaikovsky’s score, though it was not composed for the ballet, has in its danceable four movements different qualities suggestive of different emotions and human situations, parts of the ballet seem to have a story: the apparently "pure" dance takes on a kind of plot. But this plot, inherent in the score, contains many stories-it is many things to many listeners to the music, and many things to many people who see the ballet.

The four movements of Tchaikovsky’s score are danced in the following order, without interruption: (1) Piece in the Form of a Sonatina: Andante nоn troppo, Allegro; (2) Waltz; (3) Тема Russo: Andante, Allegro con spirito; (4) Elegy.

Serenade has seen a number of different productions. It was produced by the American Ballet, the company made up of our dancers at the School of American Ballet, in its first season, at the Adelphi Theatre, New York, March 1-15, 1935. It was staged for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, October 17, 1940, at the Metropolitan Opera House … In 1941, Serenade was mounted for the South American tour of the American Ballet Caravan in a new production… In 1947 it was staged for the ballet of the Paris Opera. On October 18, 1948, Serenade became part of the permanent repertory of the New York City Ballet…

The leading role in Serenade was first danced by a group of soloists, rather than by one principal dancer. In a number of productions, however, I arranged it for one dancer. But when the New York City Ballet was to make its first appearance in London, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in the summer of 1950, it seemed appropriate to introduce the company by introducing its principal dancers and the leading role was again divided and danced by our leading soloists.

Serenade is now danced by many ballet companies in the United States and abroad. A few years ago I finally succeeded in expanding the ballet so that it now uses all of the score of the Tchaikovsky "Serenade for Strings, " something I had wanted to do for a long time. The interesting thing is that while some knowing members of the audience noticed this change and spoke to me about it, the critics didn’t seem to notice at all! Perhaps they had seen the ballet too often!

From 101 Stories of the Greats Ballets by George Balanchine & Francis Mason


Ballet in one act
Igor Stravinsky

Sacred Dozen

Supersophisticated in its music and choreography, Agon created by late Stravinsky and mature Balanchine is undoubtedly "a joke of two genius­es". Calculated to highly experienced "balanchinists", first and most (both performers and specta­tors) , it crowns by itself the so-called Grecian-inspired triptych by Balanchine and Stravinsky.

Owing to sophisticated freak of mind and delicate calculation, the choreog­rapher and the composer assembled, by common efforts, separate serial "building blocks" into their own "ideal urban ballet" which Agon is like, as a result. His dancers, perfectly working, but thinking machines, as they were called by Balanchine himself, served as initial material for these "blocks" if any troubles or disturbances could be seen in functioning of this "divine mechanism", the whole main structure of the ballet started going to ruin and the agony began.

There proved to be nothing Grecian in Agon but its name, translated as "struggle", "argument" or "contest". But when in 1954 Stravinsky and Balanchine set to work on Agon, they never got into argument. On the contrary, they worked in harmony, enjoying their joint creative process.

At the time Stravinsky took a great interest in dodecaphonia, that told on the score of the ballet. It was just number twelve to be the key to the composition, where playing a curious game on numerology can be observed. A twelve symbolies a full circle in many metaphysical conceptions. The creators of the ballet played the idea up from different points. Certainly, there are twelve dancers (8 female and 4 male) engaged in the ballet.

Naturally, it consists of twelve scenes, where all the different forms of solos, pas de deux, pas de trois, pas de quatre are presented. These dancing forms are also typical to the 17th century, when ballet just started arising under the French Royal Court. The authors of Agon even adopted from a manual of court dancing melodies of partic­ular ancient dances, such as saraband, galliard, various branles, which were introduced into the ballet, interpreted in modern way. But in Agon these melodies, as well as classical dance itself, in general submit to the 20th century art regu­larities. They carry a powerful impulse of energy, escaping through a dancer, the medium.

Violetta Mainietse (text from the handbook, abridged)

  • Characters and performers

    Symphony in C

    Ballet by in one act
    to music by Georges Bizet

    The Symphony of a Palace

    Le Palais de cristal, one of the most famous ballets of the 20th century, was presented in June, 1947, at the Paris Opera, and in March, 1948, it was performed in New York, by Balanchine’s own company, as Symphony in C, the title under which it is danced to this day by companies around the globe.

    The story of the creation of this Balanchine masterpiece is remarkable and comes close to being improbable. In l947, the Paris Opera Ballet was left without a choreographer. So George Balanchine was invited to transfer to the Opera three ballets from his New York repertoire. Having fulfilled his obligations in this respect, Balanchine became so enamoured of the artistic charm of the Paris dancers that he decided to present them with an unplanned work - and this was to be Le Palais cristal. The metaphorical title, an image of the Paris school of clas­sical dance, was not accidental. In addition to which, Le Palais cristal, is a choreographic portrait of the Paris Opera Ballet: its hierarchical structure (which, in his company, Balanchine did away with) is preserved and secured in the structure of each movement. At the cen­ter are the etoile and the premier danseur, slightly fur­ther off are the two soloist couples, while closer to the backdrop is the corps de ballet. All this is a reflec­tion of the entrenched, spatial and professional laws of the Paris Academic Company. Balanchine had no intention of infringing these laws, he admired them and brought out their artistic wisdom.

    The seventeen-year-old Georges Bizet had written his 1st (Youthful) Symphony as a diploma work in the year - 1855 - that he had completed his studies at the Conservatoire. Having won the Grand Prix de Rome, Bizet went off to Italy and was to write no more symphonies, while the score of Symphony in С gathered dust in the Conservatoire library until 1935, when it was given its first public performance - which, incidentally, was not a great success. Balanchine heard about this from Stravinsky. The former read the score, adapted it for the stage, and only after this did he begin to appreci­ate the musical world of the symphonic Bizet as much as he did that of the operatic Bizet.

    By giving each of the four movements its own contingent of dancers and bringing all the partici­pants together in an exultant finale, Balanchine too achieved an exemplary ’reading’ of the music. Balanchine’s text follows that of Bizet, repeating the flow of the music and the pattern of the musical form in a skilful design and exquisite configurations. Theme, elaboration, recapitulation, general intonation, dynam­ic play and, finally, the very sound of the orchestra, its instrumental color, its agility - all this is translated into the language of choreography with a truly hypnot­ic skill.

    Balanchine has made a ballet about ballet. If one was to attempt to answer the question, what is its signifi­cance, in a single word, this word would be genius. The genius of the ensemble, the structural genius of the grand classical pas, each of the four sections of which - entree, adagio, variations, coda - Balanchine embellished choreographically and developed symphonically, deploying them in space and uniting them in time - into the flow of the dance. Le Palais de cristal is an ode to the dance logic of the grand classi­cal pas and, at the same time, an ode to the dance genius of the classical ballet company.

    Vadim Gaevsky (text from the handbook, abridged)

  • Characters and performers

    Sylvia Pas de deux

    Ballet by in one act
    to music from ballet Sylvia

    Marina Eglevsky on the Creation for her Father

    By the fifties, Balanchine’s New York City Ballet Company had already won for itself a worldwide fame. Balanchine turned his dancers into stars. My father, Andre Eglevsky, was a soloist with the Company. He and his partner, Marie Tallchief, asked Balanchine to create a ballet for them in which they would be able to show off their tech­nique and individuality. And so the Sylvia Pas de deux, to music from Leo Delibes’ ballet, Sylvia La Nymphe de Diane, came into being, in my view one of the most beautiful of Balanchine’s pas de deux. This was unusual, for, more often than not, it is the choreographer himself who decides what he is going to mount, how he will do this, and who will dance which excerpts of it. The creative impulse usually comes from the choreographer.

  • Characters and performers

    Schedule for Ballets by George Balanchine: Agon. Symphony in C. Sylvia Pas de Deux. ! PREMIERE ! Serenade. 2022

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