One Company’s Trash Is Ballet Fans’ Treasure

Balanchine rehearsing Diana Adams and Jacques d’Amboise, circa 1963

This week, American Ballet Theatre is giving Throwback Thursday a whole new meaning. The company today announced it will donate 50,000 documents from its 74-year history to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

According to The New York Times, all kinds of historical ballet paperwork has been piling up in boxes and file cabinets at ABT, from Balanchine’s and Jerome Robbins’ choreography contracts to founding director Lucia Chase’s scrapbook of press clippings. Among other details, we learn Balanchine was paid $25 per performance of Theme and Variations when it was first performed in 1947. As a beginner, Robbins received $10 per showing of his iconic Fancy Free in 1944. There are tour itineraries, dancers’ diaries and more—relics of daily life on the road and in rehearsal.

Now that ABT has cleaned house, we can't wait to sift through their stuff! The Library of Congress is promptly creating an exhibit, “American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years,” which will open next Thursday and run until January 24. It then travels to L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in March.

Photo by Martha Swope ©NYPL for the Performing Arts

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