The School and NYCB
The creation of the New York City Ballet in 1948 is a milestone in the history of the School of American Ballet, for it marked the realization of George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein’s primary goal in founding SAB: to create an American ballet company. Since then, the School and NYCB have been intimately linked. For the past seven decades, SAB has been the official training academy of New York City Ballet.
The choreography created by George Balanchine established a uniquely American style, one that demanded dancers to move with unprecedented speed, precision and intense musicality. To ensure that the technique taught at the School develops the exceptional dancers who can fulfill the needs of the Company, NYCB and SAB have historically shared the same artistic leader. George Balanchine held that role until his death in 1983, followed by Peter Martins from 1983 until 2017. In February 2019, Jonathan Stafford was named Artistic Director of both NYCB and SAB.
Over the years, current members and alumni of NYCB have come to form a greater proportion of the School’s permanent faculty. These brilliant instructors include many who were trained by and danced for George Balanchine during his most prolific years as one of the leading choreographers of the twentieth century. Today, all 19 faculty members are current or former members of NYCB. They pass on their incomparable experience gained by dancing the ballet world’s most varied, challenging and musically accomplished repertoire.
New York City Ballet provides invaluable performing experience for many SAB students in a number of ballets featuring roles for children, allowing an exciting glimpse into the rewards of disciplined training. Such exposure was critical to Balanchine’s own early ballet training in Russia, and he and his successors have given generations of young American dancers the same opportunity on the nation’s premier ballet stage. Even when not performing, students are encouraged to attend NYCB performances, and complimentary tickets are regularly provided for many performances during the Company’s eight-week-long Winter and Spring repertory seasons.
Both the School and NYCB are constituents of the world-famous cultural center Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Both occupy studios in Lincoln Center’s Samuel B. and David Rose Building, and the Company performs in the David H. Koch Theater, located a short walk across the plaza.
SAB alumni comprise almost all of New York City Ballet’s world-class dancers. NYCB does not hold open auditions and very rarely invites professional dancers not trained at SAB to join its ranks. Instead, the School and Company’s artistic director annually selects up to 10 SAB students to undertake year-long apprenticeships with New York City Ballet. The Apprentice Program is jointly administered by SAB and NYCB, with apprentices maintaining access to the School’s resources and support while earning the equivalent of a first-year corps member salary prorated according to the number of performances assigned. The School actively supports apprentices’ transition to professional life through the Apprentice Mentorship Program, which partners new apprentices with Company dancers who volunteer to educate and support apprentices throughout the year. The majority of NYCB’s apprentices receive invitations to join the Company by the end of the apprentice year.