Skip to main content

See also:

Library of Congress gets American Ballet Theatre archive, opened exhibit Aug. 14

The Library of Congress has acquired the American Ballet Theatre's archive of more than 50,000 items, and today opened an exhibit about ABT, one of the world's greatest dance companies.

Paloma Hererra as Kitri in "Don Quixote", 1990s. American Ballet Theatre Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress. The Library has acquired the ABT's archives; exhibit opens Aug. 14.
Paloma Hererra as Kitri in "Don Quixote", 1990s. Photo by Myra Armstrong. American Ballet Theatre Collection,Library of Congress

"American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years", a free exhibit about America's National Ballet Company, has more than 40 artifacts, including photographs, scores, costume sketches, posters, and programs, plus a five-minute film of dance clips.

It also went live today at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/american-ballet-theatre/. The exhibit will be on display at the Library through Jan. 24, and then travel to Los Angeles, where it can be viewed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in its Library of Congress Ira Gershwin Gallery from March 2015 through August 2015.

The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) donated its archives in celebration of its 75th anniversary this year.

Known as the American Ballet Theatre Collection at the Library of Congress, it joins the Library's many other dance, theater, and music collections in its Music Division, including the papers of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Morton Gould, and set designer Oliver Smith.

Terming it a "centerpiece collection", Susan Vita, chief of the Library's Music Division -- the world's largest music collection -- said "American Ballet Theatre has historically brought a diverse, classical and uniquely American artistic expression to towns and cities throughout the globe."

The exhibition highlights the ABT's vibrant history, focusing on the dance company's early years; national and international touring; embrace of innovative contemporary ballets as well as traditional repertoire -- the ABT has performed more than 450 works created by more than 150 choreographers; groundbreaking diversity of its artists; and the company's future.

In 1939, a group of dancers, choreographers, and producers associated with Russian-born Mikhail Mordkin's ballet company established an innovative dance company called Ballet Theatre. Their aim was to develop the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, who could bring a fresh, American style. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith from 1940 to 1980, the dance company achieved its goal.

Renamed American Ballet Theatre in 1957, it has brought its wide-ranging repertoire to a total of 136 cities in 43 countries.

Its repertoire includes all the great 19th century full-length ballets, such as "Swan Lake", "The Sleeping Beauty", and "Giselle"; the finest 20th century works by choreographers George Balanchine, Michel Fokine, Antony Tudor, and Agnes de Mille, and contemporary masterpieces by choreographers Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, and Merce Cunningham.

Mikhail Baryshnikov served as artistic director from 1980 to 1989. He was succeeded in 1990 by Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith, and since October 1992, former ABT principal dancer Kevin McKenzie has served as artistic director.

This autumn in New York, ABT will begin a 15-month-long 75th anniversary celebration by presenting works most closely associated with the ballet company's history.

The ABT was proclaimed America's National Ballet Company® by a 2006 Act of Congress.

For more info: "American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years", Library of Congress, in the Performing Arts Reading Room, 1st Floor, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. Free. Aug. 14 through Jan. 24, 2015. Then the exhibit will travel to Los Angeles, and be displayed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in its Library of Congress Ira Gershwin Gallery from March 2015 through August 2015. American Ballet Theatre, www.abt.org.