Backstage at our 90th Anniversary Ball

On February 26, 2024, the School of American Ballet held its annual fundraising gala. The School’s Ball is always an incredible event, but this year’s was particularly special as we took the opportunity to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of SAB. The evening included a special performance on the David H. Koch Theater stage featuring students from all levels of the School – demonstrating classwork and the progression of the Balanchine aesthetic from beginners in our Children’s Division all the way through to our Advanced Division dancers. Excerpts from two of George Balanchine’s beloved ballets, Stars and Stripes and Who Cares? showcased how our students’ training translates into performing Mr. B’s repertory with panaché.

Concluding with a nod to all our accomplished alumni, the program featured a few of our most advanced students dancing an excerpt from alumnus Justin Peck’s In Creases, before alumni and New York City Ballet principal dancers Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia brought the house down by dancing an excerpt of George Balanchine’s exuberant Tschaikovsky Pas De Deux.

Alumi and Principal dancers with New York City Ballet Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia in an excerpt from Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, choreography © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo: Erin Baiano

In just over an hour, attendees saw a complete snapshot of the School and the remarkable talents and achievements of our students, faculty, and alumni. Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford put it best when, mid-program he remarked, “The future of ballet looks very bright.”

Following the performance, guests poured out onto the Promenade, where they enjoyed dinner and dancing amidst dozens of cherry blossoms and white flower centerpieces. The evening also paid tribute to our honorees: SAB faculty member Suki Schorer and SAB board member Coco Kopelman for their long time dedication and service to the School of American Ballet. Dozens of former SAB students were in attendance and this multigenerational mix of alumni further emphasized the longevity and impact of the School.

But for our performing students, the excitement was certainly based backstage and started earlier that morning as they had minimal time before the curtain rose to do a final run-through on stage. And while every performance is special, the opportunity for these current students to perform for such a historic event, on such a magnificent stage, was something extraordinary. Even our littlest participants grasped the importance of the occasion, and each student seemed to savor this moment in time – celebrating this major milestone for the School.

Here are a few backstage snapshots from our final rehearsal…

As you can see, our students had a marvelous time on stage, doing what they love and celebrating together.

See more photos from this year’s 90th Anniversary Ball