Anthony Huxley of New York City Ballet performs Justin Peck's Solo
Credit: Erin Baiano

In its heyday, the New York City Ballet was renowned for its variety. In a single evening, an audience could catch a cheery, buoyant pas de deux to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; a mysterious, melodramatic waltz to French composer Maurice Ravel; and a patriotic salute timed to John Philip Sousa’s military marches. This spring, the New York City Ballet brings Founding Choreographers, a program of equal range that harkens back to those early days, to the Kennedy Center. One such piece is “Afternoon of a Faun,” choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the Broadway legend behind West Side Story’s choreography. The central conceit is two dancers in an imaginary studio, gazing into the audience as if it’s a mirror. They are dressed in simple practice clothes and perform a duet, ostensibly in love with each other, but really transfixed by their own reflections. Another is “Square Dance,” choreographed by George Balanchine, a Georgian immigrant who became a proud American citizen. Drawing from American folk tradition, “Square Dance” was just one of the ballets Balanchine created to celebrate the States. “Concerto Barocco,” a ballet to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in D minor, and “Donizetti Variations,” a piece to celebrate 100 years of unified Italy, round out the Founding Choreographers program. On alternating days, the New York City Ballet presents Visionary Voices, showcasing works of today’s notable choreographers, including Justin Peck and Alexei Ratmansky. New York City Ballet performs June 6 through 11 at the Kennedy Center. $29–$119.