How the New York City Ballet Remains Current

The New York City Ballet (NYCB) is one of the most iconic and influential dance companies in the world, known for its innovative choreography, stunning performances, and commitment to excellence. Founded in 1948 by the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, the NYCB has been at the forefront of the ballet world for more than 70 years. But how does a dance company stay relevant and current in a rapidly changing cultural landscape? In this blog post, we’ll explore how the NYCB has remained a vital and dynamic force in the world of dance.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

One of the key ways that the NYCB has remained current is by embracing diversity and inclusion. In recent years, the company has made a concerted effort to expand its repertoire to include works by a more diverse range of choreographers and dancers. This has included collaborations with contemporary dance makers like Justin Peck, Jamar Roberts, and Pam Tanowitz, as well as showcasing works by female choreographers like Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Lauren Lovette.

The NYCB has also made a commitment to increasing the diversity of its dancers, both in terms of race and body type. In 2019, the company announced the creation of the “Project Ballet” initiative, which aims to increase access to ballet training and performance opportunities for young people of color. The NYCB has also taken steps to promote body positivity and celebrate a wider range of body types in its dancers. By embracing diversity and inclusion, the NYCB has been able to stay relevant and appeal to a wider range of audiences.

Innovative Programming

Another way that the NYCB has remained current is by embracing innovative programming. While the company is known for its performances of classic ballets like “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake,” it has also been at the forefront of new and experimental choreography. In recent years, the NYCB has premiered works by some of the most exciting and innovative dance makers working today.

One of the most notable examples of this is Justin Peck, who has been a resident choreographer at the NYCB since 2014. Peck’s works, which combine classical ballet with contemporary movement and music, have been a huge hit with audiences and critics alike. Other contemporary choreographers who have collaborated with the NYCB include Alexei Ratmansky, Kyle Abraham, and Christopher Wheeldon.

In addition to showcasing new choreography, the NYCB has also experimented with innovative programming formats. In 2013, the company launched its “21st Century Choreographers” series, which featured a rotating cast of choreographers and dancers performing short works in a casual, intimate setting. This series was a huge success, attracting younger and more diverse audiences to the ballet. 

Adapting to Technology

The NYCB has also been at the forefront of adapting to new technology and digital media. In recent years, the company has embraced social media and digital platforms as a way to connect with audiences and promote its performances. The NYCB has an active presence on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, where it shares behind-the-scenes glimpses of rehearsals and performances, as well as promoting ticket sales and other events.

The company has also experimented with live streaming performances, allowing audiences from around the world to watch its performances in real time. In 2016, the NYCB collaborated with Facebook to live stream a performance of “The Nutcracker,” which was watched by more than 100,000 people. This kind of innovative use of technology has helped the NYCB to reach new audiences and stay relevant in a digital age.

Engaging with the Community

Finally, the NYCB has remained current by actively engaging with the community. The company has a number of outreach programs designed to promote ballet and dance to young people and underserved communities. This includes programs like “Ballet Breaks,” which offers free, hour-long ballet classes to children ages 6-8 in New York City public schools, and the “Dance Portal” program, which offers online dance classes to students of all ages and skill levels.

In addition to these outreach efforts, the company offers a number of training and scholarship programs for young dancers, including the School of American Ballet and the NYCB’s own apprentice program. 

By staying true to its roots while also embracing change and experimentation, the NYCB has been able to remain a vital and dynamic force in the world of ballet. As the dance world continues to evolve, the NYCB will undoubtedly continue to innovate and inspire audiences for years to come.

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