American Ballet Theatre is one of the world's great dance companies. Few ballet companies equal it in size, scope or ambition. ABT performs its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. It presented the world premiere of The Nutcracker, by Alexei Ratmansky, in December 2010 at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Founded in 1939, the company tours the United States annually performing for more than 600,000 audience members. The company has also made more than 15 international tours to some 42 nations. Since its inception the company has striven to develop a repertory of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers.
From 1940 to 1980, under the joint direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith, the company created what many critics consider a large and diverse repertory consisting of all the great full-length ballets of the 19th century, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle; the finest works from the 20th century—Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas, Rodeo and others; and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces such as Airs, Push Comes to Shove and Duets. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by great choreographic masters of the 20th century, including George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.
From 1980 to 1990 ABT was under the artistic direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov. Since 1992, former ABT principal dancer Kevin McKenzie has led the company. In keeping with the company's long-standing commitment to bringing the finest in dance to the widest international audiences, the company has enjoyed recent successes with engagements in Tokyo, London, Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Palermo, Italy and in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece. In 2000 the company made its first visit to China, appearing in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. During this tour it also appeared in Taipei and Singapore for the first time.
ABT's commitment to teaching and presenting classical ballet is embodied in its respected ABT II and Summer Intensive programs for training talented dancers. Other programs such as Make-A-Ballet, ABTkids and Pre-Performance Workshops encourage young people to learn the technique of ballet.
ABT hosts a number of programs for young audiences, including ABTkids and Pre-Performance Workshops that help kids get the most out of a ballet experience.
In September 2013, American Ballet Theatre (ABT) announced the formation of Project Plié, a comprehensive initiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet and to diversify America’s ballet companies. Project Plié seeks to combine training and support of ballet students and dance teachers from communities previously underrepresented in American ballet companies with the creation of a nationwide partner network of professional ballet companies who are committed to diversity. In addition, Project Plié will include a new partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to introduce participants to ballet and identify children for future training.
Starting in the fall of 2013, scholarship recipients will be identified through auditions conducted throughout the United States and nominations made by ABT Certified Teachers during the company’s 25-city Summer Intensive audition tour and at master classes held in all five boroughs of New York City.
Learn more about Project Plié.
ABT II Dancers perform in schools around the U.S. The company also distributes thousands of complimentary tickets to schoolchildren each year. Students are given two performance tickets so they may attend with a parent or guardian, making dance accessible to families who might not otherwise be able to afford it. There is also a discount program for high school students.
Other programs include Young People's Ballet, in which dancers perform with commentary about the works presented, dance history and production techniques by ABT's artistic staff, and Make-A-Ballet, a workshop in which students have the opportunity to design, construct, choreograph, produce and perfom their own original performance pieces under the guidance of ABT's teaching artists and school faculty.