Theme and Variations

Dancers Louise Nadeau & Brian Staihr in Am American in Paris in spring 1987. Photographer Don Middleton.
Dancers: Tempe Ostergren and Liang Fu. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Choreography by George Balanchine
Music by Peter I. Tchaikovsky
Staged by Judith Fugate
Costume & Scenic Design by David Heuval
Lighting Design by Trad A Burns
Original Lighting Design by Jean Rosenthal

An intensive development of the classic ballet lexicon, Theme and Variations was intended, as Balanchine wrote: “to evoke that great period in classical dancing when Russian ballet flourished with the aid of Tschaikovsky’s music.” The final movement of the composer’s third orchestral suite consists of 12 variations. The ballet opens to reveal a corps of twelve women and a principal couple. As the ballet moves from variation to variation, the solo performances of the ballerina and her cavalier are interspersed among the corps performances. As in all classical ballets, there is a central pas de deux. A grand polonaise builds to the climactic finale for the entire cast of 26 dancers.

Repertory notes provided courtesy of and adapted from New York City Ballet Online Repertory Index.

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: Friday, May 12, 2017. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

World Premiere: November 26, 1947. American Ballet Theatre, City Center of Music and Drama

All Repertory