New York City Ballet announces new digital season

David Mead

Following the success of the previous digital seasons, New York City Ballet has announced a further series of streamings in advance of its planned return to live performances at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in September 2021. Running from February to May, the new season includes several new ballets and special programs, many of which will be specially filmed onstage at the Koch Theater.

The season includes world premieres of new works by Kyle Abraham and NYCB Resident Choreographer and Artistic Advisor Justin Peck, the latter heading the programme for the virtual Spring Gala on Wednesday, May 5.

NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford comments how good it is to be back on the theatre stage. “That glorious venue, NYCB’s home since 1964, has been dark for nearly a year, and to see the theatre begin to reawaken with NYCB’s wonderful dancers performing new works by Justin Peck and Kyle Abraham, as well as iconic masterpieces by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, is going to be a thrilling experience for all of us.”

Daniel Ulbricht in George Balanchine’s Prodigal SonPhoto Paul Kolnik
Daniel Ulbricht in George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son
Photo Paul Kolnik

Three Sides of Balanchine

The 2021 digital season will begin on Monday February 22 with a three-part series called Three Sides of Balanchine that will explore three works demonstrating his narrative, classical, and neoclassical traditions: Prodigal Son, Theme and Variations and Stravinsky Violin Concerto.

The first week of the series will explore Prodigal Son, created in Paris in 1929 for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes to a score by Sergei Prokofiev. It is the second oldest work by Balanchine still performed today, beaten only by Apollo created a year earlier.

The week of programming will begin on the Monday with the launch of a Hear the Dance episode of City Ballet The Podcast, hosted by former NYCB dancer Silas Farley who will interview Edward Villella, the legendary dancer and artistic director who first performed the title role of Prodigal Son, coached by Balanchine, in a 1960 revival of the work.

On Tuesday February 23, the first of three Inside NYCB presentations hosted by Principal Dancer Russell Janzen will look at the role of The Siren, the leading female role in the ballet, featuring a rehearsal and conversation with Principal Dancer Maria Kowroski, Repertory Director Lisa Jackson, and corps de ballet member Christina Clark, who will be learning the role.

On Thursday February 25, there will be a streaming of a previously filmed performance of the complete Prodigal Son featuring Daniel Ulbricht and Teresa Reichlen in the leading roles.

Tiler Peck in George Balanchine’s Theme and Variationsoto credit: Paul Kolnik
Tiler Peck
in George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations
Photo Paul Kolnik

Week 2 explores Theme and Variations, the classical showpiece Balanchine created in 1947 to a score by Tchaikovsky, for what is now American Ballet Theatre.

On Monday March 1, Tchaikovsky’s score for the ballet will be discussed in a See the Music episode of City Ballet The Podcast, hosted by NYCB Music Director Andrew Litton.

On Tuesday March 2 an Inside NYCB presentation, hosted by Janzen, will focus on a virtuosic male solo from the ballet through a conversation and rehearsal with Principal Dancers Andrew Veyette and Joseph Gordon, and Repertory Director Kathleen Tracey.

On Thursday March 4 a full streaming of the ballet will feature Tiler Peck and Veyette in the principal roles.

The final week explores Stravinsky Violin Concerto, the neoclassical masterpiece that Balanchine created for the opening night of NYCB’s Stravinsky Festival in 1972.

In a Hear the Dance episode of City Ballet The Podcast on Monday March 8, Farley will interview former NYCB principal dancer Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who originated the leading male role in the ballet’s First Aria.

The following evening, Janzen will host an Inside NYCB conversation and rehearsal session with Principal Dancer Sara Mearns, Soloist Claire Kretzschmar and Repertory Director Rebecca Krohn that looks at one of the female solos from the ballet.

The Thursday March 11 streamed performance will Sterling Hyltin, Ask la Cour, Sara Mearns, and Taylor Stanley in the leading roles.

All episodes of City Ballet The Podcast will be available at Inside NYCB presentations and performance streams for the Three Sides or Balanchine will be available free-of-charge until the Thursday of the following week on NYCB’s YouTube channel and website.

Kyle Abraham rehearsing with New York City Ballet in 2018Photo credit: Erin Baiano
Kyle Abraham rehearsing with New York City Ballet in 2018
Photo Erin Baiano

Kyle Abraham world premiere

Choreographer Kyle Abraham will create a new work that will be filmed onstage at the David H. Koch Theater and released online on Thursday, April 8. It will be the choreographer’s third work for NYCB following The Runaway (2018) and the film Ces noms que nous portons, filmed on the Lincoln Center campus last summer.

It will be created during February when Abraham and dancers Taylor Stanley, Lauren Lovette, Claire Kretzschmar, Sebastian Villarini-Velez, India Bradley, Jonathan Fahoury, Christopher Grant, and KJ Takahashi will travel to the Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, New York for a three-week residency in a COVID-secure bubble.

The work, which Abraham will co-direct the filming of with award-winning filmmaker Ryan Marie Helfant, will be available online for two weeks from Thursday, April 22.

Spring Gala and Justin Peck world premiere

Justin Peck rehearsing with New York City Ballet in 2019Photo Erin Baiano
Justin Peck rehearsing with New York City Ballet in 2019
Photo Erin Baiano

NYCB will present its first-ever virtual gala on Wednesday, May 5, which will feature a performance filmed at the David H. Koch Theater that will include the world premiere of a new ballet by Justin Peck.

A solo work for Principal Dancer Anthony Huxley, it will be set to a string quartet arrangement of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. This special program will also include excerpts of works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins newly filmed for the occasion.

The Spring Gala will be available online for two weeks from May 6.

More podcasts and education workshops

In addition to the three episodes of City Ballet The Podcast that are part of the Three Sides of Balanchine series, there will be two additional New Combinations episodes hosted by NYCB Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan that will focus on the new works by Kyle Abraham (available from April 5) and Justin Peck (available from May 3).

The digital season will also include six Ballet Essentials interactive repertory workshops for teenagers and adults; six Ballet Breaks movement workshops for children; six Signature Steps, one-hour ballet classes designed for intermediate and advanced level dancers; and twelve Access Workshops for people with disabilities, six for children and six for teens and adults.

For updates on the Digital Season and further information on how to view each presentation, visit