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Choreography is a new interpretation of the classical style hence the term Neoclassical

Neoclassical Era Ballet (1900 -1980’s)


Neoclassical Ballet


Evolved in Russia and France in the early 1900’s

Use of abstract music and movement

Lack of storyline or plot – the movement is the primary focus

Choreography is a new interpretation of the classical style hence the term Neoclassical

Movements are fast, sharp, angular and very musical

More use of the torso

Social, Political, Economic changes in the early 1900’s spurred the movement


Neoclassical Ballet

Serge Diaghilev – (1872-1929) Sponsor of the arts established the Ballets Russes (1911)

1909: Diaghilev assembled a group of the leading Russian dancers of the Imperial Ballet to become the “Ballets Russes.”

Fled Communist Russia for Paris

Five major choreographers:

Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky,

Leonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska,

and George Balanchine.


Neoclassical Ballet

Vaslav Nijinksy (1889 – 1950)

Danced in Fokine’s work in the Ballet Russes before taking over as choreographer

His choreography was different from Fokine – used parallel positions and gestures to evoke the images of Greek vase paintings

Rite of Spring (1913) set to music by Stravinksy – created a riot when it was first premiered


Neoclassical Ballet

Watch the Video: Rite of Spring

Start at 15:20 and watch to the end





UncleWaldemar. “Rite of Spring – Joffrey Ballet 1987.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo4sf2wT0wU.


Neoclassical Ballet: George Balanchine

George Balanchine

founder of New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet

Russian raised in the Petipa tradition

Worked with Ballet Russe in Paris before emigrating to the USA

Choreography is a new interpretation of the classical style hence Neoclassical

Movements are fast, sharp, angular and very musical

Stravinsky and Balanchine were great collaborators

Agon Choreo:Balanchine/Music:Stravinsky

Neoclassical Ballet: George Balanchine

His influence on ballet focuses on:

Less courtly, more athletic dancing


High-speed bravura

He felt that these ideals suited the American audiences

Influenced by modern dance and jazz

Uses syncopated movement

Uses movement that is turned-in and/or sharply angular positions



Neoclassical Ballet: George Balanchine

Variety of works created (over 400 works total)

In addition to works created for New York City ballet – he also created

Over 20 Broadway shows

Created dances for four movies

Created one circus number for Ringling Brothers

Created a number of revues in Paris and London

Balanchine preferred to create shorter works for the American Audience

Neoclassical Aesthetic

Use of simple costumes and sets

Focus on the lines and shapes of the movement itself


Neoclassical Ballet: George Balanchine

Video Link: Selections from Agon






ear8002. “Igor Stravinsky: Agon.” YouTube, YouTube, 30 Nov. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud8zVcHPnuM.

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