Ballet Connoisseurship

Ballet Connoisseurship is a brand new educational offering from the School of American Ballet that provides seasoned ballet goers and newcomers alike with knowledge and perspectives that will enhance their appreciation and understanding of ballet. During each of the three course units, illustrious SAB faculty and alumni, along with outside experts, will illuminate a variety of perspectives on the art and craft of classical ballet, with an emphasis on the Balanchine aesthetic and philosophies behind the School of American Ballet’s incomparable training, which propels students to renowned companies around the world, including New York City Ballet.

Launching in January 2019 and running through April, the first three units of Ballet Connoisseurship will explore history, technique and choreographic masters. There will be three sessions per unit. Because, in George Balanchine's words, "the only advice for someone who wishes to 'understand' ballet is to see it," each unit will include live demonstrations by students of the School of American Ballet.

Each session of Ballet Connoisseurship will meet for 90 minutes and will be held at the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center. Although each unit can be enjoyed on its own, the three units are designed as an in-depth, cumulative educational experience.  Refreshments will be served at all sessions. 

The cost of each unit is $600 or $1600 for the full 3-unit course.  Detailed descriptions are included below.  For questions about this program, please contact Alexis Branagan: 212-769-6612 or

> Click here to register for Ballet Connoisseurship


Unit I: History

In the early 1930’s, young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein brought George Balanchine to America to establish an American Ballet company—a company with American dancers and an American style, not dependent on European repertoire. In this course unit, we will explore the influences that came before this uniquely American brand of ballet, from the court dances of King Louis XIV in France to the Ballets Russes, in addition to the rich history of the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet themselves. The course will also cover the history of The Sleeping Beauty, in anticipation of New York City Ballet’s performances of this full-length spectacular in February 2019. Speakers for this unit include current New York City Ballet dancers Megan Fairchild and Silas Farley; former NYCB dancer, celebrity dance coach and ballet archivist Kurt Froman; dance historian and SAB alumna Nancy Goldner; and music and dance scholar and Princeton University professor Simon Morrison.

Unit I Meeting Dates
Wednesday, January 16, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm
Wednesday, January 23, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm
Wednesday, January 30, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm


Unit II: Technique (UNIT FULL)

“But first, a school,” George Balanchine famously told Lincoln Kirstein. The School of American Ballet was founded in 1934, a year prior to first of a series of performance troupes that culminated in the 1948 creation of New York City Ballet. SAB continues to train dancers for City Ballet and for companies worldwide, all within Mr. Balanchine’s signature technique and style. Learn more about how dancers are trained from an early age, specifically in this technique and its philosophy, from such masters as Kay Mazzo, Chairman of Faculty at SAB, and senior faculty members Suki Schorer and Katrina Killian, with SAB students putting the principles into practice.

Unit II Meeting Dates
Thursday, February 7, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm
Wednesday, February 13, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm
Wednesday, February 20, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm


Unit III: Choreographic Masters (UNIT FULL)

School of American Ballet’s curriculum is designed to prepare dancers for New York City Ballet’s vast active repertory of over 150 works. In this course, learn more about some of these pieces and the greats who created them.  First we will cover the man who started it all—the legendary George Balanchine. This unit will also explore the work of 20th- and 21st-century choreographers, shedding light on their artistic inspirations, including music, design, and narrative, and how the Balanchine aesthetic helped to shape their work.  Speakers will include former, legendary New York City Ballet dancers Merrill Ashley and Edward Villella, who originated in Balanchine works, former NYCB dancer and Juilliard professor Jeff Edwards on Christopher Wheeldon, Jim Steichen, music and dance scholar and author of the recently released book "Balanchine and Kirstein's American Enterprise", and New York City Ballet principal dancer and choreographer Lauren Lovette.

Unit III Meeting Dates
Thursday, April 4, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm
Thursday, April 11, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm
Thursday, April 18, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm


> Click here to register for Ballet Connoisseurship