Lilac Garden

Dancers Robert Skafte and Susan Manchak. Photographer Don Middleton.
Dancers Robert Skafte and Susan Manchak. Photographer Don Middleton.

Choreography: Anthony Tudor
Music: Ernest Chausson
Costume Design: Hugh Stevenson

Anthony Tudor, the English choreographer, established himself permanently in the realm of great choreographers when, in 1940 during the first season of Ballet Theater (now known as American Ballet Theater), he recreated his ballet Lilac Garden for that fledgling company. The bittersweet theme is set in the gracious Eduardian era. The plot-a young woman betrothed to a man she does not want to marry-mirrors the society in which power and position are uppermost. The ballet is so musically constructed that it would seem Ernest Chausson had written it specially for the ballet.

Caroline, about to enter upon a marriage of convenience, attends a farewell party to precede the ceremony. Among the guests are the man she really loves and the women who, unknown to her, has been her fiancé’s mistress. Quick meetings and interrupted confidences culminate with Caroline leaving on the arm of her betrothed, never having satisfied the desperate longing for the final kiss.

The late Dame Marie Rambert, for whose ballet company Lilac Garden was originally created said of the ballet: “The interplay of feelings between these characters was revealed in beautiful dance movements and groupings, with subtle changes of expression, which made each situation clear without any recourse to mime or gesture.”

World Premiere: January 26, 1936

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: February 20, 1991

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