The 1990s - Boston Ballet

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The 1990s

Nina Ananiashvili and Fernando Bujones in the Sergeyev production of Swan Lake

Photo credit: Ken Franckling © 1990


A historic Swan Lake, a new building, and the creation of the Citydance program were among the milestone moments of the 1990s.

Adriana Suárez, Patrick Armand in a publicity still for The Pirate (Le Corsaire)

Jaye R. Phillips, circa 1997

The lobby of the new 19 Clarendon Street Building

Photographer unknown, circa 1991

May 3, 1990: Boston Ballet presented a historic American and Soviet production of Konstantin Sergeyev’s staging Swan Lake featuring principal dancers from the Boston, Kirov, and Bolshoi Ballet Companies. Sergeyev and his wife, Natalia Dudinskaya, came to Boston to stage the work. Joining Boston Ballet were Nina Ananiashvili and Alexei Fadeyechev from the Bolshoi; and Aleksandr Lunev, Yulia Makhalina, Tatyana Terekhova, and Konstantin Zaklinsky from the Kirov. The “Glastnost Swan Lake”, as it was nicknamed, was picked up by news outlets across the US, from New York to LA. Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times stated “A huge risk and the most imaginative project to come down the ballet pike in a decade, Boston Ballet’s new Swan Lake…is a fabulous production and a major success”

Sep 4, 1991: The brand new Boston Ballet studios at 19 Clarendon Street officially opened. The new space, designed by architect Graham Gund, was built on the site of the decaying Pennock Building, a converted parking garage, which had been the company’s home since 1975. The new building added over 40,000 square feet to the previous space, with a main studio designed to provide rehearsal space equal to that of the stage at the Wang Center.

Oct 10, 1991: Boston Ballet’s CITYDANCE program officially kicked off on Thursday, October 10, 1991. The program was “designed as a long-term project that, over many years, will integrate the professional company so that it reflects the city’s multicultural population” (The Boston Globe, October 11, 1991 – Patti Hartigan). Bruce Marks is quoted as saying “This is about giving young people the chance to be who they can be: an artist, a dancer, a choreographer, or even an artistic director.” In the first year Citydance auditions were held at 37 schools in Boston and Lynn, with nearly 300 students attending Citydance sessions at the 19 Clarendon Street Studios.

Nov 1, 1992: Under the direction of Jonathan McPhee, the Boston Ballet Orchestra releases the first recording on its own label. The recording of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker became one of the best-selling Nutcracker recordings of all time.

Apr 15, 1993: Boston Ballet presented the company premiere of Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella. Karen Scalzitti, Jennifer Gelfand, and Trinidad Sevillano shared the title role originated by Gaye Fulton in April 1970.

Apr 30, 1994: Boston Ballet celebrated 30 years with a special gala featuring the world premiere of Twyla Tharps Waterbaby Bagatelles, a piece choreographed specifically for Boston BalletDance critic Dale Harris, said of the piece “What we watch with mounting delight is a group of young people at the very peak of their physical powers, exulting in their beauty and litheness, eager to show themselves off to the world.”

Nov 10, 1995: In a sneak preview of the full-length piece which would premiere on March 21, 1996 as part of the “Hot and Cool” program, Boston Ballet dancers performed excerpts from Lila York’s The Celts during the half-time show of the Boston Celtics. The completed piece of 28 dancers showcased many of the company’s strong male dancers, and was set to music by The Chieftains, William J. Ruyle, Bill Whelan, Celtic Thunder, and Dan Ar Braz.

Bruce Marks with students in the Citydance program.

Photo credit: Jerry Berndt, circa 1991

Mar 21, 1996: Boston Ballet premieres Daniel Pelzig’s Nine Lives: The Songs of Lyle Lovett. Daniel Pelzig was named resident choreographer in 1995, after winning the gold medal at the third Boston International Choreography Competition. Of his first piece choreographed for Boston, arts writer T.J Medrek wrote “[it was] a stunning breath of fresh air – fluid, sophisticated, filled with magic and surprise.” Between 1995 and 2000 Pelzig choreographed nine world premieres for Boston Ballet, including: The Princess and the Pea (1995), Romeo and Juliet (1997), and An American in Paris (1998).

Mar 27, 1997: Boston Ballet becomes the first American company to present the full-length ballet The Pirate (Le Corsaire), with choreography by Konstantin Sergeyev (after Petipa). This version of the ballet had never been presented by any company outside of the Soviet Union and Boston Ballet became the first non-Russian company to perform the complete work. Natalia Dudinskaya returned to Boston to set the piece, her fourth for Boston Ballet.

Jul 1, 1998: Anna-Marie Holmes succeeds Bruce Marks as Artistic Director of Boston Ballet.  Holmes joined the Boston Ballet in 1985 when Marks brought her on as Ballet Mistress for the company. She joined him as co-director in 1993. Her close relationship with Natalia Dudinskaya helped facilitate the former Kirov directors work with Boston Ballet, including the “Glasnost Swan Lake” and the American premiere of The Pirate (Le Corsaire).

Mar 4, 1999: In 1999 Boston Ballet premiered Christopher Wheeldon’s Corybantic Ecstasies, his first project for Boston Ballet. The young choreographer was still at the height of his performing career as a New York City Ballet soloist when he came to Boston Ballet to create the piece. Wheeldon’s other pieces for Boston Ballet included Firebird (1999) and The Four Seasons (2000).


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