Theme and variations
THEME AND VARIATIONS
Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (Suite No. 3 for Orchestra, final movement)
Choreography by George Balanchine
Staged by Kirk Peterson
Costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge*
Lighting by David K. H. Elliott*
*This production premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, 5/5/86
World Premiere: Scenery and costumes by Woodman Thompson, later Andre Levasseur
Lighting by Jean Rosenthal
City Center 55 Street Theater, New York, 11/26/47
Original Cast: Alicia Alonso, Igor Youskevitch, Melissa Hayden, Paula Lloyd, Cynthia Riseley, Anna Cheselka, Fernando Alonso, Fernand Nault, Zachary Solov, Eric Braun
This plotless ballet with its glorious choreography and glittering costumes is a vision of the Imperial Ballet in its heyday at the Maryinksy Theatre. It has been said that Theme and Variations was the “niece” of The Sleeping Beauty – bringing 19th century ballet into the 20th.
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 12 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.