If you’re in New York or San Francisco this month, you can see the much loved ballet Serenade. This one-act ballet, made by Balanchine in 1934, treads the line between abstract and narrative with sublime choreography.

When New York City Ballet opens its Winter Season on January 20, and when San Francisco Ballet opens its first program of the year on January 27, Serenade will be on the bill. If you can, go see it. Whether it's your first time or tenth time, you are likely to go into raptures over it.

Recently the experience of watching my favorite Balanchine ballet has deepened. While reading Elizabeth Kendall’s brilliant book, Balanchine and the Lost Muse, I really connected with her hunch about the effect that the tragic death of his dancing partner, the 20-year-old Lidia Ivanova, had on his young imagination. Kendall felt that in some way he remained haunted by her mysterious drowning and that feeling showed up in his choreography.

Even if you haven’t read Kendall’s book, this ballet has so many choreographic riches within the flow of Tchaikovsky's music that you can see it many times and always find something new. OK, that’s a cliché, but what happens is that your favorite parts get imprinted in your mind’s eye while you also absorb the poetry of the transitions you never noticed before. It’s like having a comfy old quilt that, every time you look at another corner of it, reveals how beautifully one patch adjoins another.

Because Serenade is in the rep of so many companies (Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, the Mariinsky), Dance Magazine marked the 75th anniversary of the ballet’s premiere with this feature story in 2010: “The Secrets of Serenade.” In it, dancer-turned-writer Lisa Rinehart talks about the interior joy and spirituality of the ballet.

Keeping with the spirituality, I’ll quote Wendy Whelan, who spoke on a panel at SAB that year. Talking about performing the ballet as a student, she said, “You felt the sacredness of the most simple things that we did together.” 

We will all see and/or do lots of new dances this year. But let’s take the time, before the onslaught of dance activity of 2015, to meditate on the sacredness of the simple things that make up a transcendant, enduring ballet.

Latest Posts


Studio Bleu students Jaxon Keller, Samantha Halker and Alia Wiggins. Photos by Chris Stark

How Turning Boards and Practice Mats Can Revolutionize Your Dance Training

When it comes to equipment, dancers don't need much—just shoes and whatever can fit in their dance bag. But between rehearsals in the studio and performances on stage, one major piece of equipment often goes overlooked—the floor.

Dancers too often find themselves warming up on the concrete or carpet backstage, or wanting to practice in a location without a proper floor. For years, Harlequin Floors has offered a solution to this problem with its innovative turning board, offering a portable and personal floor that can be flipped between marley and wood. Now, they've revolutionized portability again with their practice mat, offering dancers the option to roll up their own personal floor and sling it over their shoulders like a yoga mat.

We spoke with experts from every corner of the dance industry to see how Harlequin's products have become their everyday essentials:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS