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American Ballet Theatre is an internationally celebrated cultural institution. We are America’s National Ballet Company® because we are dedicated to preserving and extending the great legacy of classical dancing.
At ABT, we know that by sharing art we can develop a global community of art enthusiasts that transcends cultural boundaries. The American Ballet Theatre team – from staff, artists, and our Board of Trustees, to our dedicated volunteers – works tirelessly to produce innovative performances, reach the widest possible audience, and provide the highest quality education in classical dance.
At your fingertips is a wealth of information, but be warned: the more you learn, the more you’re going to fall in love. On behalf of our entire team, welcome to American Ballet Theatre.
Where It All Began.
American Ballet Theatre is considered one of the greatest dance companies in the world, revered as a living national treasure since its founding in 1939. Few ballet companies rival ABT in size, scope, and outreach. Though located in New York City, ABT annually tours the United States – performing for 300,000 people annually – and is the only major cultural institution to do so. The Company has made more than 30 international tours to 45 countries in order to share American ballet with the world, and on many of these engagements ABT received sponsorship from the State Department of the United States Government.
In the Autumn of 1939, ABT was launched with the mission of developing a repertoire of the best ballets from the past, and the creation of new works by gifted choreographers, wherever they might be found. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith (1945 – 1980), the Company more than fulfilled this mission.
Perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, ABT’s repertoire includes full-length classics from the nineteenth century: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle; the finest works from the early twentieth century: Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas and Rodeo; and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces including Airs, Push Comes to Shove and Duets. Throughout the curation of this exquisite repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by the choreographic geniuses of the twentieth century: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.
Mikhail Baryshnikov became Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre in 1980, succeeding Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith. Under his leadership, numerous classical ballets were staged, restaged, and refurbished and ABT strengthened and refined the classical tradition. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Baryshnikov and established an agenda dedicated to maintaining the great traditions of the past while aggressively pursuing a vital and innovative future.
In October 1992, former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed Artistic Director. McKenzie, steadfast in his vision of ABT as “American,” was committed to maintaining the Company’s vast repertoire, and to bringing the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world.
Former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Susan Jaffe was named Artistic Director in December 2022. Jaffe is dedicated to preserving the beauty and depth of classical ballet while moving the Company artistically into the future, expanding ABT’s audience, and exploring diverse choreographers and styles.
In keeping with ABT’s long-standing commitment to bring the finest in dance to the widest international audience, the Company has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, Paris, and Muscat, Oman.
On April 27, 2006, by an act of Congress, American Ballet Theatre was designated America’s National Ballet Company®.
ABT Co-Founder Lucia Chase was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for 2018. The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame publicly honors the achievements of Connecticut women, preserves their stories, educates the public and inspires the continued achievements of women and girls.Lucia Chase Tribute Film
We are American Ballet Theatre. We believe that Representation and Inclusion Sustain Excellence “ABT RISE.” For the last 80 years, ABT has delivered the beauty and art of dance to stages all over the country and the world. As we reflect upon our history, we recommit to addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within our organization and through our programming. We commit to investing in DEI across all aspects of our institution, and we will work collaboratively to develop policies and practices that eliminate marginalization. We strongly believe in fostering, preserving, and advancing a culture of equity in order to ensure an inclusive atmosphere both onstage and behind the scenes.
Further, ABT condemns racism and discrimination. We are committed to building and promoting an antiracist and anti-discriminatory community through active introspection and self-awareness. We are actively engaged in becoming a more equitable institution by continuing to create consistent opportunities for open and safe discussions amongst our colleagues and with the guidance of experts, by facilitating ongoing anti-discrimination and antiracist training, and by using our art form to amplify marginalized voices. In doing so, we will promote awareness, acceptance and understanding within our organization and in the communities we serve.
This work will strengthen our ability to fulfill the essence of our vision as America’s National Ballet Company®: to engage and inspire communities through the diversity, dynamism and power of world class dance.
Photo: John Grigaitis.
View our Master Calendar to see our full schedule of Performances, Training and Community events in New York City, nationally and globally.
Photo: Rosalie O'Connor
Keep up to date with the latest ABT news and announcements through our Press Releases.
Photo: Gregory Heisler.
Immerse yourself in the legacy of classical dance that ABT is dedicated to preserving and extending by exploring our Repertory Archive.