A symposium to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the first performance of the Stravinsky–Balanchine ballet Agon on December 1, 1957. To celebrate the lifelong collaboration of Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine,

and to honor the life and work of Robert Silvers (1929–2017), founding Editor of The New York Review of Books.

Program (subject to change)

Morning Session

9:30 Coffee and Registration.

9:45–10:00 Welcoming Remarks.

10:00–11:30 From Apollo to Agon: The Origins and Evolution of the Stravinsky-Balanchine Partnership.
Panelists: Lynn Garafola, Columbia University and Barnard College; Elizabeth Kendall, The New School; Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times.

11:30–11:45 Coffee Break.

11:45–1:15 The Moment of Agon.
Chair, Robert Gottlieb. Panelists: Barbara Horgan, The Balanchine Trust; Allegra Kent, Barnard College; Arthur Mitchell, Dance Theater of Harlem.

1:15–2:15 Lunch.

Afternoon Session

2:15–3:00 Interview with Jacques d’Amboise, The National Dance Institute, with Simon Head.

3:00–4:30 The Theme of Contest in the Stravinsky–Balanchine Ballets, with a Focus on the Portrayal and Role of Women.
Chair: Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker. Panelists: Joan Acocella, The New Yorker; Barbara Milberg Fisher, City College of New York; Maria Kowroski, New York City Ballet; Amar Ramasar, New York City Ballet.


Joan Acocella has been the dance critic of The New Yorker since 1998. In 2009 she was a recipient of the Nina Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing given by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2012 she was a Holtzbrinck Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She is the author of Mark Morris (2003) and Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints: Essays (2007).

Katherine Cecil (conference organizer) is a documentary filmmaker based in New Orleans. She is developing a transmedia documentary The Claiborne Avenue History Project (2017). Her film Race won the HBO Best Documentary Award at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival in 2010.

Jacques d’Amboise is founder and director of the National Dance Institute in New York City. He joined New York City Ballet in 1950 aged 15, and became a principal dancer two years later. He was a MacArthur Fellow in 1990 and a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honors Award in 1995. He is the subject of the DVD Jacques d’Amboise: Portrait of a Great American Dancer (2006) and is the author of I Was a Dancer (2011).

Barbara Milberg Fisher is Professor Emerita of English at the City College of New York. In 1946 she joined Ballet Society, the company founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. She joined New York City Ballet in 1948 and as a soloist danced in the first performance of Agon in December 1957. She is the author of In Balanchine’s Company: A Dancer’s Memoir (2006).

Lynn Garafola is Professor of Dance at the Department of Dance at Barnard College and Co-Chair of the Department. She is a faculty member at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. In 2016 she received the Dance Magazine Award for her outstanding contribution to the field of dance. She is the author of numerous works on dance including Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (1989) and Legacies of Twentieth-Century Dance (2005).

Robert Gottlieb was Editor of The New Yorker 1987–1992 and previously Editor in Chief at Simon and Schuster and Knopf. He has been a member of the Board of Directors at New York City Ballet and in the 1970s worked with George Balanchine to plan the company’s dance programs. He is the author of George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker (2004) and Avid Reader: A Life(2016).

Simon Head is Director of Programs at the New York Review of Books Foundation and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author of The New Ruthless Economy: Work and Power in the Digital Age(2005) and Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans (2014).

Barbara Horgan was personal assistant to George Balanchine from 1963 until his death in 1983. She was appointed executor of Balanchine’s estate and in 1987 became with Karin von Aroldingen founding trustee of the Balanchine Trust, responsible for the licensing and performance of Balanchine’s works on behalf of his heirs.

Elizabeth Kendall is an Associate Professor of Liberal Studies and Literary Studies at the New School and in 2004–2005 she was a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library. She is the author of Balanchine and the Lost Muse (2015) and Where She Danced: The Birth of American Art Dance (1984).

Allegra Kent is Adjunct Professor of Dance at Barnard College. She joined New York City Ballet in 1953 and as a principal dancer she was an early partner of Arthur Mitchell in the performance of the Agon pas de deux. Among the roles Balanchine created for her were in The Seven Deadly Sins, Ivesiana, and Bugaku. She is the author of Once a Dancer… An Autobigraphy (2009) and with Emily Arnold McCully of Ballerina Swan (2012).

Maria Kowroski has been a principal dancer at New York City Ballet since 1999. She has originated roles in ballets by Peter Martins, Benjamin Millepied, Helgi Tómasson and Christopher Wheeldon. Among the many Balanchine ballets in which she has danced a leading role are Agon, Apollo, Concerto Barocco, The Four Temperaments, Prodigal Son, and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

Alastair Macaulay has been chief dance critic of The New York Times since 2007. He was chief theater critic of the Financial Times 1994–2007, and chief dance critic of The Times Literary Supplement 1996–2006. He is the author with Matthew Borne of Matthew Borne and His Adventures in Dance: Conversations with Alastair Macaulay (2011) and of Margot Fonteyn (1998).

Arthur Mitchell joined New York City Ballet in 1955 and in December 1957 danced the Agon pas de deux with Diana Adams in the ballet’s first performance. In 1969 with Karel Shook he founded The Dance Theater of Harlem, and was its artistic director from 1971 until 2009. He received a Kennedy Center Honors Award in 1993. See also Tobi Tobias and Carole Byard’s Arthur Mitchell (1975).

Claudia Roth Pierpont has been a staff writer at The New Yorkersince 2004. She has been a recipient of a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She is the author of American Rhapsody: Writers, Musicians, Movie Stars, and One Great Building (2017) and Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting The World (2001).

Amar Ramasar has been a principal dancer at New York City Ballet since 2009. In 2000 he received the Mae L. Wien Award of the School of American Ballet. Among the Balanchine ballets in which he has danced a leading role are Agon, The Four Temperaments, Liebeslieder Waltzer, Orpheus, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Who Cares?



Image courtesy of the New York Review of Books Foundation

MON—6-26-2017—9:30 AM-4:30 PM, free