New York City Ballet’s 2012 Spring Gala on Thursday, May 10 will feature a one-time-only salute to France titled À La Française, and will feature two World Premiere ballets, one by NYCB’s Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins to a score by the French composer Marc-André Dalbavie, and the other by French-born choreographer and former NYCB Principal Dancer Benjamin Millepied. The evening will also include a major revival of George Balanchine’s Symphony in C, which was created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947 to a score by the French composer Georges Bizet.
Actress Natalie Portman will serve as the Honorary Chairman for the gala evening, with Emily and Len Blavatnik, Charlotte Moss and Barry Friedberg, and Marie-Nugent-Head and James C. Marlas as the gala’s Chairmen. The entire evening, which will take place at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, is sponsored by Christian Dior and Swarovski.
The new work by Benjamin Millepied will be set to a commissioned score by contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly who is a graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School of Music. Muhly is currently one of the music world’s most sought-after young composers, and has written numerous orchestral and choral works, as well as scores for dance, opera, and film.
A former dancer with New York City Ballet, Millepied joined NYCB in 1995 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2002. Before retiring from dancing with NYCB last year, Millepied danced a wide variety of works in the NYCB repertory and originated roles in ballets by Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, and Mauro Bigonzetti, among others. As a choreographer, Millepied has created three previous works for New York City Ballet – Quasi Una Fantasia (2009), Why am I not where you are? (2010), and Plainspoken (2010).
This will be the fourth time that Muhly and Millepied have collaborated on a ballet, following previous works for American Ballet Theatre in 2007 (From Here on Out), the Paris Opera Ballet in 2009 (Triade), and the Dutch National Ballet in 2010 (One Thing Leads to Another).
The new work by Martins will be set to the French-born composer Marc-André Dalbavie’s Trio No. 1, for violin, cello, and piano, which was composed in 2008. A graduate of the Paris Conservatory of Music, Dalbavie is one of the most frequently performed composers of his generation, having received commissions from such prestigious orchestras as the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Orchestra de Paris, where he served as composer in residence for four years. The new Martins ballet will mark the first score by Dalbavie to enter the repertory of the New York City Ballet.
The final ballet on the 2012 Spring Gala program will be a major revival of the George Balanchine masterpiece Symphony in C, which NYCB last performed in 2008. Balanchine created the piece in Paris in 1947 to an early, and at the time, mostly unknown score by the French composer Georges Bizet. The four-movement ballet was originally called Le Palais de Cristal when it was first performed by the Paris Opera Ballet. The year after its premiere Balanchine staged the work in New York for Ballet Society, a precursor of New York City Ballet, and renamed the work Symphony in C. The ballet was also included on the program for NYCB’s first performance on October 11, 1948.
Now a signature work of the New York City Ballet, Symphony in C returns to the repertory this spring in a major revival with new costumes designed by Marc Happel, NYCB’s Director of Costumes. The fully-redesigned costumes will be embellished with Swarovski Elements, and the production design will also feature all new crystallized tiaras and headpieces created by jewelry designer Robert Sorrel.
Former NYCB corps de ballet dancer Jamie Wolf, now a well-known jewelry designer, is creating original earrings, also made with Swarovski Elements, which will be worn in the production. Wolf will also launch a line of earrings inspired by Symphony in C that will be available for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting NYCB.
New York City Ballet’s 2012 Spring Season will take place from May 1 through June 10 at the David. H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, NYC. For more information and tickets visit www.nycballet.com or call 212-496-0600.
Top photo: Benjamin Millepied rehearsing Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle for his upcoming ballet which will premiere on May 10, 2012. Photo Paul Kolnik.