This chapter examines the March 1935 performances of the American Ballet at the Adelphi Theater in New York City, the official premiere of the company and its new repertoire. Preparations for the engagement revealed ongoing disagreement about the direction of the enterprise, and the performances met with a mixed reception. The engagement was an occasion for Kirstein and others to debate the goals and mission of the organization, and dance critic John Martin was one of many critical voices contributing to debate on their efforts. The American Ballet’s activities were in part a response to the Russian ballet companies then active in the United States, notably the troupe led by choreographer Léonide Massine. Massine’s recent innovation of “symphonic ballet” was one of many artistic trends with which Balanchine’s work was in dialogue, most notably in his ballet Serenade.
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