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Symphony in C

20–29 November 2018
Main Stage

Balanchine's dazzling neoclassical ballet, set to Bizet's Symphony no.1 is a joyful showcase for the whole Company.

When to see it


The four movements of Bizet's Symphony no.1 in C Major are matched to choreography that moves through virtuoso displays and romantic pas de deux to end with a spectacular finale.


George Balanchine created Symphony in C in 1947 for the Paris Opera Ballet, and it was first performed by The Royal Ballet in 1991. In creating the ballet, he drew on his experience as a young dancer in St Petersburg - this Russian background is particularly evident in the Andante movement, which recalls the style of the 'white act' in Swan Lake.

Bizet's Symphony, created when the composer was only 17, provides the perfect score for Balanchine's neoclassical displays of virtuosity through the Allegro vivo movement, a poignant Andante movement and the exhilarating build-up to the grand finale, in which 52 dancers fill the stage. The elegant set and costumes were designed by former Director of The Royal Ballet Anthony Dowell.

News and features

On Wikipedia

Symphony in C, originally titled Le Palais de Cristal, is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to Georges Bizet's Symphony in C (1855). The music of the ballet, which Bizet wrote at the age of 17 while studying with Charles Gounod at the Paris Conservatory, was lost and only rediscovered and published in 1933 (Stravinsky informed Balanchine of this). The premiere was on Monday, July 28, 1947, in the Théâtre National de l'Opéra with the Paris Opéra Ballet where Balanchine was guest ballet master. According to City Ballet docents the four movements were originally associated with and designed using the colors four gemstones, three of which Balanchine subsequently retained for the three movements of his 1967 ballet Jewels: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Even before the ballet was renamed Symphony in C, he had eliminated the color scheme and changed to the white costumes still used. The NYCB premiere took place as the final piece on the first performance, October 11, 1948, of the newly renamed City Ballet at the City Center of Music and Drama with costumes by Karinska. Jerome Robbins was in the audience at that performance and is quoted as saying that he immediately wrote to Balanchine asking to be hired in any capacity. Suzanne Farrell says that Symphony in C is the first ballet she ever saw and determined at once to become a ballerina and join City Ballet; both of which she did. When she was in rehearsal learning her role from Balanchine, he asked her whether she could touch her knee with her nose en penchée, which she could, and this addition to the choreography remains to this very day.

Read the complete Symphony in C (ballet) article on Wikipedia, available under a Creative Commons license.