A Program of Firsts

by Balanchine, Neenan, & Scarlett, music by Tchaikovsky, Poulenc & Herion
May 12, 2016 to May 15, 2016 Academy of Music

Experience a milestone in the history of dance with George Balanchine’s Serenade, set to the classic score of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48. The first original ballet Balanchine created in America, Serenade incorporates unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography such as students falling or arriving late. Heralded by The New York Times as “one of today’s foremost dance poets,” Choreographer in Residence Matthew Neenan conceives his world premiere for the Company with music by Troy Herion. In Asphodel Meadows, a company and North American premiere, Liam Scarlett presents three compelling pas de deuxs, which mirror Francis Poulenc’s vigorous dialogue between two pianos. This contemporary interpretation of classical style closely follows Poulenc’s score and quickly shifts in mood throughout the piece.

Balanchine, Neenan, & Scarlett

Born on January 22, 1904, in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine studied ballet and music in Russia before making his way to America. He gained notoriety as a young choreographer and co-founded the American Ballet. Balanchine was the co-founder, artistic director and chief choreographer of the New York City Ballet, and nearly every ballet company in the world has performed his work. He died in New York City in 1983.
George Balanchine began his training at the Mariinsky Theatre’s ballet school and after graduating he attended the Petrograd State Conservatory of Music. In 1922, George Balanchine married a 15-year-old ballet student named Tamara Gevergeyeva. This was the first of four separate marriages to dancers, and for each of his wives, Balanchine would make a ballet.
In 1924, Balanchine was invited to tour Germany as part of the Soviet State Dancers. A year later, the young choreographer joined Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. At just 21 years old, Balanchine took over as choreographer for the group, one of the most renowned ballet companies in the world.
After the Ballet Russes collapsed, Balanchine created the company Les Ballets in 1933. Following a performance, American dance aficionado Lincoln Kirstein approached Balanchine about collaboration and the two began a 50-year creative partnership, co-founding the School of American Ballet in 1934. The following year, the professional company known as the American Ballet emerged, becoming the official company of New York's Metropolitan Opera until 1936.
In 1946, Kirstein and Balanchine co-founded a company that would become the New York City Ballet. Balanchine served as artistic director of the company, based out of New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. He produced more than 150 works for the company, including "The Nutcracker." While money was tight, Balanchine presented the dancers in practice clothes instead of ornate costumes.
In addition to ballet, George Balanchine choreographed Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals. He is known for his connection to Igor Stravinsky; Balanchine created many ballets to his work, some in collaboration with the composer. He made more than 465 works, which have been performed by nearly every ballet company in the world.
Balanchine created plotless ballets, where the dancing upstaged glitz and storytelling. His work never featured a star, as he believed the performance should outshine the individual. He is credited with developing the neo-classical style distinct to the 20th century. Balanchine served as the artistic director of the New York City Ballet until his death, on April 30, 1983, in New York City.
George Balanchine. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 10:56, Aug 03, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/george-balanchine-9196284.With edits made.
Matthew Neenan began his dance training at the Boston Ballet School and with noted teachers Nan C. Keating and Jacqueline Cronsberg. He later attended the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts and the School of American Ballet in New York. From 1994-2007, Matthew danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet where he danced numerous principal roles in works by George Balanchine, John Cranko, Paul Taylor, Peter Martins, Val Caniparoli, Jorma Elo, Lila York, Meredith Rainey, Christopher Wheeldon and Jerome Robbins. In October 2007, Matthew was named Choreographer in Residenceat the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Matthew’s choreography has been featured and performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet, BalletX, The Washington Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Ballet West, Ballet Memphis, Milwaukee Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Tulsa Ballet, Ballet Met, Oklahoma City Ballet, Juilliard Dance, New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, Sacramento Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Indiana University, Opera Philadelphia, and LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts (NYC), among others. He has received numerous awards and grants for his choreography from the National Endowment of the Arts, Dance Advance funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Choo San Goh Foundation, and the Independence Foundation. In 2006, Matthew received the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute’s Fellowship Initiative Award. Matthew’s Carmina Burana, As It’s Going, and 11:11 were performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet at New York City Center in 2006 & 2007.  In 2008, he received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. This marks his fourth time receiving the PCA fellowship. In October 2009, Matthew was the grand-prize winner of Sacramento Ballet’s Capital Choreography Competition and was also the first recipient of the Jerome Robbins NEW Program Fellowship for his work at the border for Pennsylvania Ballet.
In 2005, Matthew co-founded BalletX with fellow dancer Christine Cox. BalletX had its world premiere at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in September 2005 and is now the resident dance company at the prestigious Wilma Theatre. BalletX has toured and performed Neenan’s choreography in New York City at The Joyce Theater, The Skirball Center, Symphony Space and Central Park Summerstage, Vail International Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, The Cerritos Center, Laguna Dance Festival, Spring to Dance Festival in St.Louis, and internationally in Cali, Colombia and Seoul, Korea. In 2010, Matthew became a trustee member for DanceUSA. His ballet The Last Glass was praised in the New York Times as the “The Top 10” of 2013.
Credited to http://www.matthewneenan.com/biography.htmlWith edits made.
English choreographer Liam Scarlett trained at The Royal Ballet School and danced with The Royal Ballet, retiring as a dancer in 2012 to focus on his choreographic career. That year he was appointed The Royal Ballet’s first Artist in Residence. His works for The Royal Ballet include Despite and Vayamos al Diablo (2006), Consolations and Liebestraum (2009 – nominated for a Critics’ Circle Award), Asphodel Meadows (2010 – nominated for a South Bank Award and an Olivier Award, and winner of a Critics’ Circle Award), Sweet Violets, ‘Diana and Actaeon’ from Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 (2012), Hansel and Gretel (2013), the Jubilee pas de deux in celebration of HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, The Age of Anxiety and Summertime. In the 2015/16 Season he creates a full-length narrative ballet for the Company, Frankenstein.
Scarlett was born in Ipswich and trained at the Linda Shipton School of Dancing before joining The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge. While at the School he won both the Kenneth MacMillan and Ursula Moreton Choreographic Awards, and was the first recipient of the De Valois Trust Fund Choreographers’ Award. He graduated into The Royal Ballet in 2005, promoted to First Artist in 2008. His repertory as a dancer included Peter Rabbit (Tales of Beatrix Potter), Vicar/The March Hare (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and roles in Swan Lake, The Prince of the Pagodas, La Fille mal gardée.
Scarlett's works for other companies include Hinterland (2007) and Indigo Children (2008) for Ballet Black, Gargoyles for New York City Ballet (2009), Viscera (2012) and Euphotic (2013) for Miami City Ballet (also designed by Scarlett), Promenade Sentimentale for K-Ballet (2013), Serpent for BalletBoyz: The Talent (2013) and No Man's Land for English National Ballet (2014).
Credited to http://www.roh.org.uk/people/liam-scarlettWith edits made.