Back to Press Releases

The Museum of Television & Radio Presents A Celebration of George Balanchine: Selected Television Work

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA- In honor of the centenary of George Balanchine's birth, The Museum of Television & Radio presents A Celebration of George Balanchine: Selected Television Work, a screening series featuring television programs from 1956 to 1990.  Running in both the New York and Los Angeles Museums from December 5, 2003, to March 7, 2004, screenings in New York will be Tuesdays to Sundays at 12:30 p.m., with an additional screening Thursdays at 6:00 p.m., and in Los Angeles Wednesdays to Sundays at 12:30 p.m.  In addition to the screenings, the Museum will present a companion seminar, A Conversation about George Balanchine, on January 20 in New York.  This series is presented in conjunction with The George Balanchine Centennial Celebration.  

George Balanchine, whose neoclassical, technically dazzling ballets transformed the art of dance in the twentieth century, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 22, 1904. Following his studies at the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg and an early career as a choreographer in Europe, he came to the United States in 1933 at the invitation of Lincoln Kirstein, with whom he founded the School of American Ballet in 1934 and, subsequently, the New York City Ballet in 1948.  Balanchine served as the ballet master and principal choreographer of the New York City Ballet for thirty-five years, until his death in 1983. 

Balanchine was amazingly prolific and created more than four hundred dance works.  Though he was originally skeptical of having his ballets performed on television, excerpts of his signature pieces were popular with television audiences in the late 1950s and 1960s on such cultural variety programs as The Bell Telephone Hour and The Ed Sullivan Show-and Balanchine himself was pleased with a select group of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation programs (produced and aired at irregular intervals between 1956 and 1979) that featured the New York City Ballet.  In the late 1970s the television director Merrill Brockway helped Balanchine to see that the spirit of dance could, indeed, be luminously captured on the small screen, and the choreographer reconceived some of his greatest works for television's Dance in America series on PBS. 

This screening series presents many of those television programs, including the rare 1956 telecasts of Let's Take a Trip and The Magic Flute, and classic Balanchine works performed by dancers who created the roles including Merrill Ashley, Suzanne Farrell, Melissa Hayden, Tanaquil LeClercq, Patricia McBride, Maria Tallchief, Violette Verdy, Patricia Wilde, Jacques d'Amboise, Nicholas Magallanes, Peter Martins, Arthur Mitchell, and Edward Villella. 

The schedule follows:


January 20, 2004 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the New York Museum

A Conversation about George Balanchine

A panel of dancers, television producers, and others who collaborated with Balanchine will discuss working with the great choreographer, placing an emphasis on the role of television in his career.  In person: Suzanne Farrell (Artistic Director, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Former Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet); John Goberman (Executive Producer, Live from Lincoln Center); Barbara Horgan (Trustee-General Director of The George Balanchine Trust and Chairman of The George Balanchine Foundation); Edward Villella (Founding Artistic Director/CEO, Miami City Ballet, and Former Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet). 


New York: Tuesdays to Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and Thursday evenings at 6:00 p.m

Los Angeles: Wednesdays to Sundays at 12:30 p.m. 

  • December 5 to 28

Let's Take a Trip

In this children's show hosted by Sonny Fox, Balanchine gives a tour of the School of American Ballet and choreographs Yankee Doodle for New York City Ballet members Patricia Wilde, Nicholas Magallanes, and Carolyn George. In addition, Tanaquil LeClercq and Jacques d'Amboise perform a pas de deux from The Nutcracker. (1956; 30 minutes) 

Playhouse 90: The Nutcracker

This historic telecast features Diana Adams, Allegra Kent, Arthur Mitchell, Edward Villella, and Balanchine as Herr Drosselmeyer. This is a black and white film of a program originally televised in color. (1958; 90 minutes) 

·New York December 30 to January 4; Los Angeles December 31 to January 4

NBC Opera: The Magic Flute

Staged by Balanchine, this production (an English translation by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman) features Leontyne Price as Pamina, William Lewis as Tamino, John Reardon as Papageno, and Laurel Hurley as the Queen of the Night. (1956; 120 minutes) 

  • New York January 6 to 18; Los Angeles January 7 to 18

From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Includes an excerpt from Orpheus (Magallanes, Moncion) and the ballets Liebeslieder Walzer, Pt. 1 (Adams, Jillana, McBride, Verdy, Carter, Ludlow, Magallanes, Watts), Concerto Barocco (Farrell, Morris, Ludlow), Divertimento Brillante (McBride, Villella), and Who Cares? (McBride, von Aroldingen, Morris, Bonnefoux). (1960-71; 105 minutes) 

  • New York January 20 to February 1; Los Angeles January 21 to February 1

The Bell Telephone Hour and More

Includes Stars and Stripes (Hayden, d'Amboise), Scotch Symphony (Tallchief, Eglevsky), Square Dance (Wilde, Magallanes), Allegro Brillante (Tallchief, Magallanes), Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (Verdy, Villella), and Harlequinade (McBride, Villella). Also included are the Diana and Actaeon Pas de Deux, from a 1968 telecast of The Ed Sullivan Show (McBride,Villella); and, from a live 1963 telecast from the New York State Theater, Movements for Piano and Orchestra (Farrell, d'Amboise) and excerpts from Symphony in C (Kent, Ludlow). The package ends with the 1966 program U.S.A. Dance-New York City Ballet, which includes excerpts from Agon (Farrell, Mitchell), Tarantella (McBride, Villella) Meditation (Farrell, d'Ambrose), and the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (Hayden, d'Amboise), and a discussion with Balanchine. (1959-68; 120 minutes) 

  • New York February 3 to 8; Los Angeles February 4 to 8

Live from Lincoln Center: New York City Ballet: Coppélia

This production, choreographed by Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova, stars Patricia McBride, Helgi Tomasson, and Shaun O'Brien. (1978; 150 minutes) 

  • New York February 10 to 15; Los Angeles February 11 to 15

Great Moments from Great Performances

Includes Serenade (Kistler, Nichols, Calegari, et al.), Western Symphony (Roy, Soto, Saland, LaFosse, Alexopoulos, Boal, et al.), and Theme and Variations (Kirkland, Baryshnikov). (1978-90; 85 minutes) 

  • New York February 17 to 22; Los Angeles February 18 to 22

Dance in America: Choreography by Balanchine, Pts. 1 and 2

Features Tzigane (Farrell, Martins), Divertimento No. 15 Andante Movement (Ashley, Calegari, Pillarre, Saland, Spohn, Bennett, Castelli, Weiss), The Four Temperaments (Cook, Ashley, Duell, Lüders, Neary, et al.), excerpts from Jewels (Ashley, McBride, Weiss, Farrell, Martins, et al.), and Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Mazzo, von Aroldingen, Cook, Martins). (1977; 130 minutes) 

  • New York February 24 to 29; Los Angeles February 25 to 29

Dance in America: Choreography by Balanchine, Pts. 3 and 4

Includes Chaconne (Farrell, Martins), Prodigal Son (Baryshnikov, von Aroldingen), Ballo della Regina (Ashley, Weiss), The Steadfast Tin Soldier (McBride, Baryshnikov), and Tchaikovsky Trio (von Aroldingen, Lavery, McBride, Baryshnikov, Farrell, Martins). (1978-79; 130 minutes) 

  • New York March 2 to 7; Los Angeles March 3 to 7

Collaborations with Stravinsky

From programs originally telecast in 1982 and 1983, Orpheus (Martins, Lüders, von Aroldingen), Agon (Watts, Tomlinson, et al.), and Variations for Orchestra (Farrell); and a 1969 CBC telecast of Apollo (Martins, Farrell, Morris, von Aroldingen). (1969-83; 120 minutes)    

Admission to A Celebration of George Balanchine: Selected Television Work is included with the Museum's suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen.  Admission is free in Los Angeles.  Tickets to the January 20 seminar A Conversation about George Balanchine are $15 ($12 for individual Museum Members); $7 for students with valid ID, and can be purchased in the Museum lobby during regular hours, or by calling (212) 621-6600 from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. 

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public.  Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements.  In 2001 the Museum initiated a process to acquire Internet programming for the collection.  Programs in the Museum's permanent collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles.  The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000.  Visit the Museum's website at