(K. Brent Tomer),
WHEN the New York City Ballet (NYCB) went on tour in 1967, the 18-year-old company was still poor. In Edinburgh, dancers performed in a bingo hall and rehearsals were squeezed in around the scheduled games. “Of course bingo is more important,” George Balanchine told the New York Times, “it makes money.” Balanchine, NYCB’s founder, had recently overseen his enterprise’s move to its new home at Lincoln Centre. He noted that the building had been designed “to greet officials” with “more room in the front and less in the back”. As part of Robert Moses’s project to draw white middle class suburbanites back to the city, it gave primacy to the audience rather than the artists.
Balanchine knew his company needed to attract a moneyed clientele if it were to survive. The punky, avant-garde style for which he had become renowned—featuring dancers in plain clothes and a deconstruction of traditional ballet ideals—was a hit with critics, but less so with more conservative audiences. He choreographed “Jewels”,…Continue reading