The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) was founded in 1940 and is regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies. It is based in New York City and performs annually for over 600,000 people in over 126 cities across 42 countries. In the year 2000, the American Ballet Theatre paid a visit to China, performing in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The company also had the opportunity to perform in Taipei and Singapore, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
ABT’s mission has been to cultivate a past repertoire while encouraging the creation of new works young, innovative choreographers since its inception. The company strives to present cutting-edge ballets while paying homage to the past. Agnes de Mille, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and Jerome Robbins are just a few of the famous choreographers who have created works for the world-renowned company.
Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith were the company’s first Artistic Directors. From 1940 to 1980, they were in charge of the company’s operations. The American Ballet Theatre’s repertoire included works ranging from timeless 19th century classics like Swan Lake to more modern ballets under their direction.
Mikhail Baryshnikov, a well-known Russian dancer, was appointed Artistic Director in 1980. Baryshnikov led the company to a stronger and more refined classical tradition. Countless classical ballets were staged, reworked, and polished under his direction.
With the appointment of Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith as Artistic Directors of American Ballet Theatre in 1990, there was a change of guard. Hermann and Smith continued ABT’s journey into the future while maintaining a commitment to classical ballet traditions. In 1992, Kevin McKenzie, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, was named Artistic Director. McKenzie furthers ABT’s mission guiding the company toward new works while staying true to classical ballet traditions.
For the people of the New York metropolitan area, the American Ballet Theatre offers a variety of educational and outreach programs. The Young People’s Ballet Workshop is a worthwhile program. The company uses lecture-demonstrations to teach schoolchildren about ballet in this workshop.
The workshop at the Metropolitan Opera House attracts 8,000 students each year. The workshop introduces children to ballet, fosters appreciation for the arts, and prepares future ballet patrons. The Young People’s Ballet Workshop teaches children about ballet history, dance technique, and behind-the-scenes information about ballet production.
Another American Ballet Theatre educational program is the Peter Jay Sharp Introduction to Dance, which provides over 10,000 free tickets to local schoolchildren in the New York City area. Each child receives two tickets, one for himself and one for a parent or guardian. This free-ticket program enables families who otherwise would not be able to attend a dance performance to do so.
The American Ballet Theatre, one of the world’s greatest ballet companies, performs a wide range of works in both the classical and modern traditions. It has danced in 42 countries and performed for an average of 600,000 people each year in every state in the United States. Perhaps this is why the American Ballet Theatre is regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious dance companies.