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ABT to Archive Library of Congress

August 12, 2014

American Ballet Theatre in a performance of Swan Lake Photo by Tristram KentonThe Library of Congress has acquired the American Ballet Theatre’s vast archive and will open an exhibition about the dance company on Aug. 14.

“American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years” will be displayed in the library’s James Madison Memorial Building, free and open to the public, as is it is online, also beginning on Thursday.

The exhibit will close on Jan. 24, and travel to Los Anegeles, opening in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in March.

ABT, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has donated more than 50,000 items of visual and written documentation. The archive includes photographs, Benesh Movement Notation notes and scores, music manuscripts, programs, clipping files, touring files, business papers; as well as information on grants and development, marketing and public relations, office administration and other memorabilia collected by the company, former dancers, and ballet fans.

Examples of the collection, cited in The New York Times:

George Balanchine’s 1947 contract for Theme and Variations is there. It stipulated that he would be paid $25 per performance in the first year, with his compensation falling to $15 by the third.

Amid the mounds of papers also lies Jerome Robbins’s 1944 contract for Fancy Free. As a novice choreographer, he was offered only $10 per performance, with no mention of the ballet being staged beyond one year. (Little did they know.)

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].