Two Weeks of World-Class Ballet

A look at the works inside American Ballet Theatre’s eclectic fall season



“Garden Blue,” in which dancers interact with three abstract sculptures, is one of 12 pieces in ABT’s fall lineup.


American Ballet Theatre (ABT)’s 2019 fall season, opening right next door at Lincoln Center in the David H. Koch Theater, offers two weeks of diverse and dynamic shows. It includes world premieres, classic masterpieces, works from ABT choreographers and tributes to ABT’s Women’s Movement.

This season also celebrates Principal Dancer Herman Cornejo’s 20th anniversary with ABT. Promoted to principal in 2003, Cornejo’s numerous awards include titles such as Dancer of the Year by The New York Times and Peace Messenger by UNESCO. The New York Times said, “Mr. Cornejo — different in every role — is the most miraculous dancer before the New York public, and the most complete, complex artist in Ballet Theatre’s roster.” His anniversary celebration will take place the evening of Saturday, Oct. 26, showcasing Balanchine’s “Apollo,” “El Chamuyo: Pièce D’Occasion” — a tango set to music by Francisco Canaro and choreographed by Ana María Stekelman — and Twyla Tharp’s “A Gathering of Ghosts.”

The season opens with the 2019 Fall Gala on Wednesday, Oct. 16. This program includes “Let Me Sing Forevermore,” a romantic duet bringing jazz and ballet together to showcase the versatility of the company. It is choreographed by Jessica Lang with music sung by Tony Bennett. Next, “A Gathering of Ghosts,” Tharp’s first world premiere for ABT in 10 years, was choreographed to celebrate Cornejo’s 20th anniversary. Finally, “Theme and Variations,” a historically classic George Balanchine ballet set to the magnificent music of Tchaikovsky, exhibits the incredible stamina and precise technique of the ABT dancers.

There are three main programs running through the fall season — The Masters; Balanchine, Bennett, & The Beach Boys; and The New Romantics. Running Oct. 17, 19 and 22, The Masters is set to be a display of choreographic genius from three world-renowned choreographers — Balanchine, Tharp and Alexei Ratmanksy. It includes “Theme and Variations” and “A Gathering of Ghosts” in addition to Ratmansky’s “The Seasons.” Ratmansky’s work, originally premiered in May of this year for Ratmanksy’s 10th year of choreographing for ABT, is a plotless ballet with archetypal characters used to symbolize attributes of the seasons in an abstract manner. “The Seasons,” he said, “is a declaration of love, expression of gratitude and gift to the company that has been my home for the last decade.”

Balanchine, Bennett, & The Beach Boys, running Oct. 18, 19, 20 and 24, combines classical ballet with contemporary music from The Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, Igor Stravinsky and William Bolcom. It is comprised of Balanchine’s “Apollo,” Clark Tippet’s “Some Assembly Required,” Lang’s “Let Me Sing Forevermore” and Tharp’s “Deuce Coupe.”

“Apollo” is a neoclassical work depicting the life of Apollo through Balanchine’s unprecedented choreographic genius. Tippet’s “Some Assembly Required”’ is a “pas de deux” illustrating the intimacy and tension of a relationship. Tharp’s “Deuce Coupe” marries the upbeat, joyous music of the ’60s and ’70s with the traditional, refined movement of ballet  creating an unconventional experience in dance.

The third major program, The New Romantics, celebrates ABT’s new generation of choreographers. It includes Lang’s “Garden Blue,” James Whiteside’s “New American Romance” and a world premiere from Gemma Bond, “A Time There Was.” “Garden Blue” features the music of Antonín Dvořák and an interactive set design composed of three large abstract butterfly sculptures which the dancers manipulate throughout, making the piece, as described by DanceTab, “sculptural and lyrical.” “New American Romance,” originally premiered at Vail Dance Festival in July, offers a view of modern love in conjunction with classical ballet. “A Time There Was” is Bond’s first work for her peers at ABT, featuring a score inspired by English folk music and choreographed to display the unparalleled power and beauty of ABT’s dancers.

ABT is also putting on a family-friendly matinee on Oct. 26 including works from the aforementioned three programs as well as the magical Grand Pas de Deux from “The Nutcracker.”

With its innovative merging of classical movement and contemporary music, ABT’s fall 2019 season of mixed repertory promises to be a sensational event. For discounted tickets, students can visit The David H. Koch Theater’s box office on the day of the performance they wish to attend. With the presentation of a valid student ID, two tickets can be purchased for $36.50 or less each (excluding the day of the opening gala). More information on the season can be found at