New York City Ballet – What Goes Down Before the Curtain Goes Up


You are seated in the First Ring, looking down at the stage. The dancers casually walk in and begin warming up. The ballet masters enter. They take their seats and the work begins. You are about to see a working rehearsal of the New York City Ballet.

It is humbling to see what the human body can do and witness how hard these dancers work. To them it is a job, but to me it is magic. For a $90 “Circle of Friends” membership (most of which is tax-deductible) you receive pass for two people to attend four, two-hour working rehearsals.

These are not dress rehearsals. These are working rehearsals during which the dancers and ballet masters iron out details. They start, they stop. Mistakes happen, dancers nurse injuries, adjustments and changes are made. There is no orchestra, just an accompanist. The dancers are usually not in costumes and there are no spotlights or audience.  It is raw and it is fascinating glimpse of what goes on before the curtain goes up.

The rehearsal I attended was Stravinsky Violin Concerto, choreographed by George and Balanchine and Prokofiev’s Opus 19/The Dreamer, choreographed by Jerome Robbins both pieces being performed during the company’s Winter Program.


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