Guided by George Balanchine, the School of American Ballet fulfilled the vision of philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein, who convinced the great choreographer to come to America and create a ballet school to rival those of Europe. Today, Peter Martins serves as Chairman of Faculty and Artistic Director, while wife Darci Kistler, the last ballerina trained by Balanchine, teaches.
They say Kistler, whom the New York Times called “one of the New York ballet world’s last stars,” became that star the night she danced “Swan Lake” at the School of American Ballet’s workshop, in 1980. This year, she staged that performance for a new prima ballerina.
At the cocktail reception for this year’s SAB Workshop, those in the know were spreading the excitement. “You’re going to see kids perform better than most ballet companies in the country,” SAB Chairman Bud Shulman told us. “This is the 80th anniversary of SAB and the 50th anniversary of Workshop.” The performance opened with ‘Serenade.’ “It was made for SAB and the students are transcendent when they dance it,” Shulman continued. “We bring in kids from all over country and all over world and they go to the best companies in the country.”
The Winter Ball is very glam, while Workshop in the spring is the first chance to see the new crop of ballet stars, who will be recruited by ABT and NYCB among others. “We don’t consider they graduate, but it’s a culmination of their time at SAB,” Shulman said. “They work with SAB teachers who are former city Ballet dancers to put on each one of the pieces that you see.
SAB for 80 years has turned out the best dancers in the world because we have the best faculty and the best administration. The amazing thing is Peter Martin stepped into the shoes of George Balanchine and he kept the tradition going and made it better.”
This year’s event is headed by Chairmen Liz Armstrong, Benan and Tom Ellis, Joyce and Bob Giuffra, Susan R. Kessler, Amy Newman and Bud Shulman; Corporate Chairmen Alexandra and John Galantic; and Young Patron Chairmen Brynn Putnam and Erica Sheftman. Wines were donated by Epoch Estate Wines.