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School of American Ballet

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School of American Ballet, Photo courtesy of New York Public Library


The foremost academy of classical dance in the United States, the School of American Ballet was founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein in 1934. Their goal was to train students for the "American ballet" both aspired to create, a dream realized with the founding of the New York City Ballet. In the early years Russians dominated the school, and there were more adult than children's classes. This changed dramatically in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when grants from the Ford Foundation enabled the School to recruit nationally. Although Balanchine died in 1983, the School remains closely identified with his style and technique. Pointe work is emphasized, along with clarity, energy, and attack. The New York City Ballet's distinctive company style is partly the result of all the company's dancers receiving advanced training at the School. The annual June workshop, in which advanced students participate, is an eagerly awaited event. Over the years members of the School's distinguished faculty have included Felia Doubrovska, Alexandra Danilova, Anatole Oboukhoff, Muriel Stuart, Stanley Williams, Suki Schorer, and Kay Mazzo. www.sab.org

Pictured: An undated photograph of a class at the School of American Ballet. Through scholarships and outreach, the school seeks out and provides opportunities for gifted children from around the country, and makes special efforts to attract boys. (Photograph from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)


Read an essay by Rose Anne Thom -- Selected Resources