Grace & Grandeur

by George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, and Christopher Wheeldon, music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Ludwig Minkus, and Franz Schubert
April 5, 2018 to April 8, 2018 Merriam Theater

Grace & Grandeur, evokes a sense of gilded glamor. George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations provides an unparalleled experience, complete with glittering costumes and challenging, beautiful choreography. Christopher Wheeldon’s For Four returns to the Philadelphia stage, an exciting piece that highlights the strength of Pennsylvania Ballet’s male dancers. Paquita, a romantic production with Spanish flair, rounds out this springtime program.

Balanchine’s tribute to the grandeur of ballet in Imperial Russia – an homage to the elegance of pure classical ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score.

This series of dances from the second act of the full-length ballet displays the solid technique and dazzling footwork required of female dancers.

This piece was created for four of the best male dancers in the world from four different schools of dance- including Artistic Director Angel Corella. Each movement demonstrates these styles of dance and highlights how men have taken their place in the ballet world.



George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, and Christopher Wheeldon

George Balanchine

Born on January 22, 1904, in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine studied ballet and music in Russia before making his way to America. He gained notoriety as a young choreographer and co-founded the American Ballet. Balanchine was the co-founder, artistic director and chief choreographer of the New York City Ballet, and nearly every ballet company in the world has performed his work. He died in New York City in 1983. George Balanchine began his training at the Mariinsky Theatre’s ballet school and after graduating he attended the Petrograd State Conservatory of Music. In 1922, George Balanchine married a 15-year-old ballet student named Tamara Gevergeyeva. This was the first of four separate marriages to dancers, and for each of his wives, Balanchine would make a ballet. In 1924, Balanchine was invited to tour Germany as part of the Soviet State Dancers. A year later, the young choreographer joined Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. At just 21 years old, Balanchine took over as choreographer for the group, one of the most renowned ballet companies in the world. After the Ballet Russes collapsed, Balanchine created the company Les Ballets in 1933. Following a performance, American dance aficionado Lincoln Kirstein approached Balanchine about collaboration and the two began a 50-year creative partnership, co-founding the School of American Ballet in 1934. The following year, the professional company known as the American Ballet emerged, becoming the official company of New York's Metropolitan Opera until 1936. In 1946, Kirstein and Balanchine co-founded a company that would become the New York City Ballet. Balanchine served as artistic director of the company, based out of New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. He produced more than 150 works for the company, including "The Nutcracker." While money was tight, Balanchine presented the dancers in practice clothes instead of ornate costumes. In addition to ballet, George Balanchine choreographed Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals. He is known for his connection to Igor Stravinsky; Balanchine created many ballets to his work, some in collaboration with the composer. He made more than 465 works, which have been performed by nearly every ballet company in the world.

Balanchine created plotless ballets, where the dancing upstaged glitz and storytelling. His work never featured a star, as he believed the performance should outshine the individual. He is credited with developing the neo-classical style distinct to the 20th century. Balanchine served as the artistic director of the New York City Ballet until his death, on April 30, 1983, in New York City.  

Source: With edits made.


Marius Petipa

Marius Petipa was one of the most influential figures of classical ballet. His choreography is considered the foundation of productions such as The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, and Coppelia, among others.

Petipa was born in Marseilles and began dancing at the age of nine in his father’s traveling company. At 16 he joined Theatre Nantes and began creating a number of ballets. For a time, Petipa, studied in Paris with Auguste Vestris. In May 1847 he arrived in St. Petersburg and made his debut as principal dancer and ballet master of the Maryinsky starring in his re-staging of Joseph Mazilier’s Paquita

Pepita’s ballets were known as grand spectacles that made magnificent use of corps de ballet and placed the lead ballerina center stage. His theater and school became a model for all ballet around the globe throughout the 20th century.



Christopher Wheeldon

Christopher Wheeldon was born in Somerset, England. He began his ballet training when he was 8 years old at the East Coker Ballet School. While still a student, Wheeldon won prizes for his choreography and at 17 was one of five dancers chosen to complete at the Prix de Lausanne, an international dance competition held each year to help dance students start their professional careers. In 1991, after receiving the Gold Medal for the Prix de Lausanne, Wheeldon was accepted into the Royal Ballet Company. After two years, he was invited to become a member of New York City Ballet Company. He was promptly promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1998. In 2000, Wheeldon decided to focus his attention on choreographing new works and was offered NYCB’s first artist in residence position by director Peter Martins. Since then, he has choreographed well-known works such as Polyphonia, Variations Serieuses, Morphoses, Carnival of Animals, and many others. In 2004, Wheeldon was hired by Pennsylvania Ballet to create a re-imagined production of Swan Lake which was taken to the Edinburgh International Festival in 2005.

Wheeldon regularly choreographs for leading international companies including Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet. In 2007, he became the first British choreographer to create a new work for the Bolshoi Ballet. In 2016, Wheeldon received a Tony Award for Best Choreography for the widely popular production, An American in Paris.