Thank you for joining us for Behind the Curtain! We are excited to welcome you into the studio and give you a special behind the scenes glimpse of our upcoming performances of Serenade + at High + Velocity. This evening will focus on George Balanchine’s Serenade. Louisville Ballet is proud to present the work of this master choreographer each season, and to be entrusted by the Balanchine Trust on several occasions to re-imagine the design elements of these treasured works. Explore below to learn more about Serenade and Louisville Ballet’s commitment to sharing the work of American master choreographer, George Balanchine, with our community.


Serenade is a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet’s repertory. The ballet is performed by 28 dancers in blue costumes in front of a blue background. Originating it as a lesson in stage technique, Balanchine worked unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography. When one student fell, he incorporated it. Another day, a student arrived late, and this too became part of the ballet.

Balanchine had a special affinity for Tchaikovsky. “In everything that I did to Tchaikovsky’s music,” he told an interviewer, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tchaikovsky who had helped me.”

– From the George Balanchine Trust

George Balanchine, Choreographer, Serenade

George Balanchine transformed the world of ballet. He is widely regarded as the most influential choreographer of the 20th century, and he co-founded two of ballet’s most important institutions: New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1904, studied at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg, and danced with the Maryinsky Theatre Ballet Company, where he began choreographing short works. He choreographed 425 works over the course of 60-plus years, and his musical choices ranged from Tchaikovsky to Stravinsky to Gershwin. Many of Balanchine’s works are considered masterpieces and are performed by ballet companies all over the world.

Timeline of Balanchine’s Life

The George Balanchine Trust


Zippora Karz, Balanchine Trust Repetiteur, Stager for Serenade

Zippora Karz is a former soloist ballerina with the New York City Ballet where she performed for 16 years on stage and in televised performances. She was featured in a variety of roles choreographed by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as works choreographed for her by such choreographers as Peter Martins and Lynne Taylor Corbett. Today, as a repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, Zippora stages Balanchine ballets for schools and companies around the globe. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 21, she is passionate today about motivating others to take care of themselves and live their dreams. She is the author of The Sugarless Plum, as well as her children’s story, Ballerina Dreams.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer, Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, Russia on May 7, 1840. Tchaikovsky began to play the piano at age five and at age eight, he and his brother were sent to St. Petersburg’s Schmelling School to study music. He was told that he displayed no signs of genius and was therefore not encouraged to make music his vocation. He graduated, and in 1859 joined the Ministry of Justice as a clerk.

In 1860 Tchaikovsky was asked to join the staff of the Moscow Conservatory of Music as Professor of Harmony and he was here 18 years. During this time he composed many pieces of music which received mixed reviews by his peers. He incorporated many examples of the folk dancing of rural Russia in his pieces, influencing both the country’s Nationalism and his own.

During the 1880’s Tchaikovsky began to receive international attention and set out on a number of international tours. He performed his music for the opening of Carnegie Hall in New York, became an honorary member of the French Academy of Music and received an honorary Masters Degree of Music from Cambridge University. His last piece was the Sixth Symphony. After completing it, he was overcome with cholera and died on November 6, 1893.

Listen to Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48

Louisville Ballet and Balanchine

In 2015, Louisville Ballet Artistic and Executive Director, Robert Curran, made a commitment to include at least one ballet by George Balanchine in each Louisville Ballet season he programs. During his tenure, Louisville Ballet has performed the following Balanchine works:

Square Dance, April 2015

Concerto Barocco, April 2016

Kammermusik No 2, April 2016

Western Symphony, April 2016

Theme and Variations, September 2016

Rubies, November 2017

Divertimento No. 15, October 2018