The School & NYCB

The creation of the New York City Ballet in 1948 is a milestone in the history of the School of American Ballet, for it marked the realization of George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein’s primary goal in founding SAB: to create an American ballet company. Since then, the School and NYCB have been intimately linked.

The choreography created by George Balanchine established a uniquely American style, one that demanded dancers to move with unprecedented speed, precision and intense musicality. To ensure that the technique taught at the School develops the exceptional dancers who can fulfill the needs of the Company, NYCB and SAB have historically shared the same artistic leader. George Balanchine held that role until his death in 1983, followed by Peter Martins from 1983 until 2017. In February 2019, Jonathan Stafford was named Artistic Director of both NYCB and SAB.

SAB alumni Tiler Peck and Justin Peck in performance at NYCB

Over the years, current members and alumni of NYCB have come to form a greater proportion of the School’s permanent faculty. These brilliant instructors include many who were trained by and danced for George Balanchine during his most prolific years as one of the leading choreographers of the twentieth century. Today, all 19 faculty members are current or former members of NYCB. They pass on their incomparable experience gained by dancing the ballet world's most varied, challenging and musically accomplished repertoire.

SAB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford is a former NYCB Principal Dancer

New York City Ballet provides invaluable performing experience for many SAB students in a number of ballets featuring roles for children, allowing an exciting glimpse into the rewards of disciplined training. Such exposure was critical to Balanchine’s own early ballet training in Russia, and he and his successors have given generations of young American dancers the same opportunity on the nation’s premier ballet stage. Even when not performing, students are encouraged to attend NYCB performances, and complimentary tickets are regularly provided for many performances during the Company's eight-week-long Winter and Spring repertory seasons.

Students in performance at NYCB in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Both the School and NYCB are constituents of the world-famous cultural center Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Both occupy studios in Lincoln Center's Samuel B. and David Rose Building, and the Company performs in the David H. Koch Theater, located a short walk across the plaza. The School invites professionals to visit and take class, and members of NYCB and other companies are often present in advanced classes, providing students with intimate exposure to the discipline and talent of some of the world's most accomplished dancers.

David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center

SAB provides the majority of NYCB's new dancers, some of whom received their entire training at SAB and others who first came to the School from around the U.S. and the world as intermediate or advanced students. Over ninety percent of the Company’s current roster of dancers trained at SAB. New dancers enter the Company each year via a jointly-administered apprentice program, open only to students at the School.

NYCB's 2016-17 apprentices

Over the past 85 years, the School and NYCB have together transformed ballet in America. Alumni of first the School and then the Company have gone on to begin or direct other schools and companies, to choreograph new works and to stage the works of Balanchine, Robbins and other notable choreographers for companies worldwide. As a result, dancers trained at the School of American Ballet today enjoy many choices when embarking on professional careers. Not only do a number of students join New York City Ballet each year, but others join leading dance companies around the country and the world.

SAB and NYCB alumnus Helgi Tomasson Guest teaching at SAB during our 75th Anniversary Celebration. Tomasson has been Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet since 1985.









Performance and apprentice photos © Paul Kolnik

Liebeslieder Walzer, choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Jonathan Stafford and Helgi Tomasson teaching © Rosalie O'Connor

BALANCHINE is a trademark of The George Balanchine Trust