#SAB90 – 1954: The Nutcracker debuts at New York City Ballet featuring children from SAB

Over the past 90 years, the School of American Ballet has contributed immeasurably to the artistic life of America: giving birth to an internationally acclaimed ballet company, shaping generations of finely trained dancers, and establishing an American style of classical ballet that stands alongside the French and Russian classical traditions. Learn more about the School’s history and influence as we share monumental moments in honor of #SAB90.

George Balanchine’s fond memories of his childhood experiences performing with the Imperial Ballet in Russia inspired him to create a similar opportunity for SAB’s young students. With recollections of the original Russian version of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s Imperial production of The Nutcracker serving as his model, Balanchine created his own version of the Christmas-themed story in which young SAB students danced dozens of parts, including the lead roles of Marie and the Nutcracker Prince. Since its premiere in 1954, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® has been adored by audiences of all ages and has become a beloved holiday tradition for generations of New Yorkers.

Believing that exposure to the magic and stagecraft of the theater could serve as valuable inspiration for the rigorous classroom training that all dancers must undertake, Balanchine went on to create numerous parts for SAB’s youngest students in other ballets like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mozartiana and Coppélia.

To this day, students in SAB’s Children’s Division regularly perform with New York City Ballet on one of the world’s premiere dance stages – the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. In addition to Balanchine classics, first-class choreographers continue to create new works for New York City Ballet that feature SAB students, like Christopher Wheeldon’s Scènes de Ballet, and most recently Alexei Ratmansky’s Solitude. NYCB Children’s Repertory Director, Dena Abergel, and Associate Children’s Repertory Director, Arch Higgins, who both serve on the School’s faculty, work together to prepare the students for these exciting performance opportunities throughout the year.


The Sleeping Beauty, Choreography by Peter Martins. New York City Ballet Credit photo: ©Paul Kolnik

Sharing the stage with New York City Ballet is a longstanding tradition that enriches the SAB student journey and gives dancers invaluable experience as they prepare for their careers.

Read More about our history, and stay tuned for the next edition of #SAB90

Related Posts