Ballet Connoisseurship

SAB’s Ballet Connoisseurship is an educational offering for adults providing seasoned ballet goers, patrons, students, scholars, and newcomers alike with knowledge and perspectives that will enhance their appreciation of ballet. Ballet Connoisseurship was launched in January 2019 as part of our new “SAB Open” division and featured seminars exploring ballet history, technique, and choreographic masters. In spring 2020, we transitioned all of our courses to an online format and look forward to continuing online for the winter 2021 season.

SAB was pleased to offer streaming access to recordings of our recent remote Ballet Connoisseurship sessions for $20 each throughout the month of November.  Streaming access is no longer available at this time but we will assess the popularity of this program and with the possibility of offering continued access to past programs in the months to come.

Streaming: Balanchine Black & White


Photos by Paul Kolnik

Balanchine's The Four Temperaments

Recorded April 22, 2020
with guests Merrill Ashley and Silas Farley
Stream through November 30 for $20

Former principal dancer Merrill Ashley and dance history scholar Silas Farley speak about George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, including the work’s history, Ms. Ashley’s experience dancing a principal role in the ballet, and the ideas and coaching Balanchine shared with his dancers in the studio.

Balanchine Black & White In the Studio

Recorded April 29, 2020
with guests Suki Schorer and Silas Farley
Stream through November 30 for $20

Suki Schorer, Brown Foundation Senior Faculty Chair at SAB and former principal dancer with New York City Ballet, illuminates the technical aspects behind some of Balanchine’s iconic black and white ballets in conversation with Silas Farley, NYCB dancer and dance history scholar. The discussion includes Ms. Schorer’s personal experiences performing the role of Calliope in Apollo.

Balanchine's Concerto Barocco

Recorded May 6, 2020
with guest Faye Arthurs
Stream through November 30 for $20

We take an in-depth look at Concerto Barocco, one of George Balanchine’s early ballets, with former New York City Ballet dancer and dance writer Faye Arthurs. Ms. Arthurs was a senior dancer in the New York City Ballet corps de ballet, and Concerto Barocco is exceptional in the way that it challenges and utilizes its 8-woman corps as much as its principal roles.

STREAMING: Celebrating NYC, Jerome Robbins Style


Photos by Paul Kolnik

Fancy Free

Recorded September 2, 2020
with guests Adrain Danchig-Waring and Daniel Duell
Stream through November 30 for $20

Adrian Danchig-Waring, New York City Ballet principal dancer and former research fellow at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, leads a discussion with Daniel Duell, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and Artistic Director of Ballet Chicago, about Jerome Robbins’ 1944 piece Fancy Free.

Evoking the Great White Way, Fancy Free is the precursor to Broadway’s On the Town, presenting three sailors and their escapades on shore leave in Manhattan. It was Fancy Free that put Robbins on the map as someone who had a clear eye for creating compelling movement, a deft hand at telling a story, and a creative vision that was unique in the world of theater.

West Side Story

Recorded September 16, 2020
with guests Nancy Ticotin and Jenifer Ringer
Stream through November 30 for $20

West Side Story took Broadway by storm in 1957, when it ushered in a new era in musical theater. Jerome Robbins had the idea to update Romeo and Juliet, setting it in modern-day New York, and he engaged composer Leonard Bernstein, playwright Arthur Laurents, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim as collaborators. The musical played for two years on Broadway, then toured the U.S. and ran for nearly three years in London, and has since been staged in cities around the world. The movie followed in 1961, winning 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (for co-directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins), as well as a special award presented to Robbins for his choreography.

Actress Nancy Ticotin, one of the guest speakers for this Ballet Connoisseurship event, portrayed the role of Consuela in the 1980 Broadway revival, working with Jerome Robbins directly. In 1995, she guest-starred in the Robbins’ original staging of West Side Story Suite, the version of the work created for New York City Ballet. At the time, this event’s other guest speaker, former New York City Ballet principal dancer Jenifer Ringer, was in the corps of New York City Ballet. Ringer later went on to dance Anita in West Side Story Suite.

STREAMING: Comedy in Ballet


Photos by Paul Kolnik

George Balanchine's Coppélia

Recorded September 23, 2020
with guests Silas Farley and Patricia McBride
Stream through November 30 for $20

Coppélia is considered one of the greatest comic ballets of the 19th Century and has remained one of the best-loved classical works in the ballet repertory. Originally choreographed by Arthur St. Léon in 1870, restaged by Petipa in 1884, and revised by Cecchetti in 1894, it has been performed regularly since then. None of St. Léon’s original choreography remains in today’s productions, and although Acts I and II have retained his ideas and story, the nature of some of the roles has changed. New York City Ballet’s version was staged by Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova — who was considered a definitive Swanilda.

In this Ballet Connoisseurship event, former NYCB dancer and dance educator and scholar Silas Farley leads us through the history of the ballet, and Patricia McBride, Balanchine’s original Swanilda, illuminates the staging process and the nuances of bringing the delightful characters of the ballet to life.

George Balanchine's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Bourrée Fantasque, and A Midsummer Night's Dream

Recorded September 30, 2020
with guests Patricia McBride and Susan Pilarre
Stream through November 30 for $20

This event will explore two lesser-known Balanchine ballets, along with a fan favorite. In Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the romantic adventures and comic misadventures of Cléonte, Moliére’s 17th century dancing master, provide the impetus for this elaborately costumed ballet set in a fashionable Parisian mansion. The ballet was created for a 1979 New York City Opera production, featuring Rudolph Nureyev alongside New York City Ballet dancers, including Patricia McBride.

With Bourrée Fantasque, Balanchine puts his wit and encyclopedic knowledge of dance forms on display. The ballet takes comic aim at many of the conventions that typify the classical dance while providing glimpses of such popular dances such as the can-can and tango.

Patricia McBride speaks about Le Bougeouis Gentilhomme, and former New York City Ballet soloist and SAB faculty member Susan Pilarre speaks about Bourrée Fantasque.

They also discuss Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set to the beautiful music of Felix Mendelssohn, which premiered in 1962. This delightful work was the first wholly original evening-length ballet Balanchine choreographed in America.

Jerome Robbins' The Concert

Recorded October 7, 2020
with guests Sterling Hyltin and Stephanie Saland
Stream through November 30 for $20

Jerome Robbins’ The Concert (Or, the Perils of Everybody) is a one-of-a-kind comedic ballet portraying a cast of quirky characters at a piano recital. Chopin’s music sets the scene for the laugh-out-loud antics as the recital attendees lose themselves in the music. New York City Ballet principal dancer and SAB faculty member Sterling Hyltin and former New York City Ballet principal Stephanie Saland will talk about portraying the “mad ballerina” in this ballet. Saland will also share insights from working with Jerome Robbins directly.