The 1960s - Boston Ballet

We’re currently experiencing technical difficulties with all Boston Ballet School registration (excluding Adult Dance Program). Thank you for your patience while we work to resolve this issue. If you have any questions please email

The 1960s

Edward Villella (Albrecht), Anamarie Sarazin (Mythra) in Giselle

Photo credit: Alex Coste, circa 1968. Courtesy of The Harvard Archives, Houghton Library



The 1960’s saw the birth of Boston’s first professional ballet company.

Alexei Yudenich, Barbara Sandonato. Boston Ballet performance of Don Quixote at The Falmouth Playhouse

Photographer unknown, Aug 29, 1965.

Carol Ravich, Laura Young, Linda DiBona, Nina Pillar in Anton Dolin's Pas de Quatre,

Photographer unknown, Jul 2, 1965. Image courtesy of Carol Ravich.

Between 1958 and 1962, The New England Civic Ballet toured regionally, performing repertory which included a 3 Act NutcrackerLes Syphides, and repertory works by E. Virginia Williams, Sydney Leonard, Lev Ianov, Jean Paige and others. E. Virginia Williams’ dancers were joined by noted guest artists from various companies including American Ballet Theatre (Sara Leland, Fern Maclarnon), Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (Eleanor D’Antuono), Balanchine’s New York City Ballet (Melissa Hayden and Jacques D’Ambroise), and Joffrey Ballet (Paul Sutherland).

Aug 27, 1961: In the summer of 1961 The American Festival of the Arts premiered at The Metropolitan Boston Arts Center along the Charles River. Edward Villella and Patricia Wilde joined The New England Civic Ballet for a special one-day-only performance which included The Young Loves, and the “Pas de Dix” from Raymonda. The gala premiere season of the festival also included the US professional premiere  of Benjamin Britton’s The Turn of The Screw, and a dance festival which brought companies and dance luminaries such as Merce Cunningham and Company, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo Concert Company, Jose Limon and Dance Company, Maria Tallchief, and Carmen de Lavallande.

Aug 14, 1962: Ted Shawn invited E. Virginia Williams’ New England Civic Ballet to perform as part of the 30th year of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. New England Civic Ballet loosely became a semi-professional company, “The Boston Ballet”, for the performances. Williams’ dancers were joined by guest artists Edward Villella and Patricia McBride of New York City Ballet. The Boston Ballet performed Spectre de la Rose, Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony, E. Virginia Williams’ The Young Loves and the world premiere of Williams’ Green Season. In reviewing the performance for Dance Magazine (October 1962) Doris Hering stated “The Boston Ballet dancers perform with a cohesiveness of style that one rarely encounters even in a seasoned professional company…there is no artifice. Instead there is an ease of communication between them and the audience.”

Dec 15, 1963: “A Ford Foundation grant of $144,000 to the Boston Ballet School has given birth to Boston’s first and only professional ballet company.” announced The Boston Globe on Monday, December 30,1963. The Ford Grant, which had been officially announced on December 15, was a historic $7,756,000, the largest private subsidy made to single art form at the time. In part, based on the recommendations of GEORGE BALANCHINE and McNeil Lowry, the grant provided for the formation of several professional ballet companies, including the Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Washington Ballet. Balanchine was a strong supporter of this initiative, he would serve as Boston Ballet’s artistic advisor for several years and as a further gesture of support gave the new company several of his works.

Jun 29, 1964: Boston Ballet made its first professional engagement as The Boston Ballet on Monday, June 29, 1964 taking part in the Boston Arts Festival in the Boston Public Garden. The eight week festival included dance, drama, and poetry on the Festival’s lagoon-sited stage and featured American and European repertory companies. The Boston Ballet presented La Fille Mal Gardee, with choreography after Jean Dauberval, E. Virginia Williams Sea Alliance, John Taras’ Design with Strings, and George Balanchine’s © Donzetti VariationsConcerto Barocco, and the Pas de Deux from Stars and Stripes. The June 29th performance marked the first time The Boston Ballet presented La Fille Mal Gardee, a ballet which “enjoys the distinction of being the oldest ballet in current repertoires”

Boston Ballet in George Balanchine's Scotch Symphony © The George Balanchine Trust

Photographer unknown, circa 1965. Courtesy of The Harvard Archives, Houghton Library

Jan 25, 1965: Boston Ballet presents the first subscription season at John Hancock Hall. The three performance season sold out. Opening night included Balanchine’s Apollo, and Scotch Symphony; Anton Dolin’s Pas de Quatre, and Norman Walker’s Reflections. Hugo Fiorato, Associate Conductor for the New York City Ballet, conducted the members of The Boston Symphony Orchestra. Balanchine and Dolin were joined in the audience by Lincoln Kirstein. Allen Hughes of The New York Times wrote “Company Pleases in First Performance – Season is Quickly Oversubscribed,” and the New York Herald Tribune’s Walter Terry stated “A Triumph as Boston Ballet Goes Professional”

Jan 17, 1966: Hans Brenna, ballet master of  the Royal Danish Ballet came to Boston to work with the company as they rehearsed for the company premiere of AUGUST BOUNONVILLE’S Napoli. Brenna was world renown for his knowledge of Bounonville’s works. Boston Ballet became the first American company to present the full third act of Napoli.

Apr 3, 1967: Boston Ballet company dancers appeared with The Opera Company of Boston at the White House for a special performance of the comic opera Voyage to the Moon accompanied by the United States Marine Band. The performance was sponsored by President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson in honor of Turkish President Cevdet Sunay and his wife.

Mar 22, 1968: Boston Ballet presented the company premiere of the romantic ballet Giselle at the Back Bay Theatre. American Ballet Theatre’s regisseur Dmitri Romanoff staged the ballet for Boston. The production featured sets by Helen Pond and Herbert Senn and costumes by E. Virginia Williams. Violette Verdy (New York City Ballet) danced the lead role of Giselle and Edward Villella (New York City Ballet) danced Albrecht. Boston Ballet’s Anamarie Sarazin debuted in the role of Mythra, Queen of the Wilis and Carol Ravich and Leo Guerard danced the “Peasant Pas De Deux”

Jun 28, 1969: Boston Ballet’s Edra Toth debuted in the title role of Giselle opposite Ivan Nagy’s Albrecht at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival when Violette Verdy’s plane was delayed. Toth was only 16 at the time of her debut. Verdy joined Boston Ballet later in the run and danced the role of Giselle opposite Nagy.


<<<< THE 1950’S  |  THE 1970’S >>>>