New York City Ballet began with two men—one a visionary, the other a craftsman. The legacy of these two men, Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine, has now evolved into the largest dance organization in the United States, boasting approximately 90 world-class performers.
Unlike New York’s other premier ballet company, American Ballet Theater, NYCB spends most of the year at home in New York, performing at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater, where it has been the resident ballet company since its opening in 1964.
With Balanchine as artistic director until his death in 1983, NYCB developed a strikingly sparse and elegant style. In contrast to the usual frills of Romantic-period ballets, Balanchine’s dancers often wear simple practice clothing in order to emphasize the lines and angles of their limbs and his choreography de-emphasizes narrative plots in favor of complex visual patterns and musical counterpoint. For Balanchine, “Ballet may contain a story, but the visual spectacle, not the story, is the essential element.”
Now under the direction of Peter Martins, NYCB continues to perform Balanchine’s extensive body of work and commissions new creations from contemporary choreographers. In addition to its roster of performances, the NYCB frequently presents Studio Talks, where company dancers, choreographers, and composers discuss the various methods and processes involved in producing a ballet.
New York City Ballet Information
- Venues: David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, Columbus Avenue & 63rd Street, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, 108th Avenue of the Pines
- Public Transportation: Good (the Koch Theater is easily accessible by subway lines 1 at 66th Street/Lincoln Center; A, B, C, and D, at 59th Street/Columbus Circle; and buses M5, M7, M10, M11, M66, and M104; the theater in Saratoga Springs is not)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good (both)
- Performances/Programs: The New York City Ballet annually presents winter and spring seasons at the State Theater. The winter season opens in November and offers about 40 performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, plus another dozen or so programs in January and February, totaling about 150 performances altogether. Following the end of the winter season, the company has an annual engagement for a week of performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The spring season, from April to June, offers another 60 or so performances consisting of full-length ballets and mixed repertory programs. After the end of the spring season, the company spends three weeks in July performing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center
- Ticket Prices: Tickets for repertory concerts range from $20 to $98. Tickets for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker range from $15 to $215 (you can also buy standing-room tickets for $10–$20). Student Rush tickets are available for many NYCB performances and must be purchased on the day of performance. Tickets are $12. You must be a high school or college student age 29 or under, international students welcome. Ticket availability is posted weekly on Mondays and can be checked here, or by telephoning the student Rush ticket hotline at 212-870-7766
- Group Discounts: Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more people for repertory performances. Savings range from $3 per ticket (second seating) to $18 per ticket (orchestra seating)
- Other Discounts: For a $20 membership fee, become a member of the New York City Ballet’s Fourth Ring Society. As a member, you can purchase tickets located in the fourth ring of the State Theater (limited to two per performance) for $15 a ticket (approximately a 50% saving). Tickets can be ordered online, over the phone, or at the State Theater box office with the use your membership card. Additional benefits include invitations to pre-performance talks and discounts at participating nearby restaurants
- Subscriptions: Subscriptions are available for two, three or four performances. There is no immediate discount, but subscribers can get 20% off available single tickets on the day of any performance, as well as discounts at restaurants, specialty shops, and museums. Other subscriber benefits include priority seating, flexible ticket exchanges (up to 24 hours before a performance) and free copies of NYCB’s bi-annual newsletter
- Educational/Community Outreach: Youngsters can attend the NYCB’s Children’s Workshops (aimed at children over 5), where they can meet artists, ask questions, and do fun hands-on activities.