New York’s School of American Ballet Toasts 90th Anniversary

When the choreographer George Balanchine co-founded the School of American Ballet in New York City in 1934, the last thing on many people’s minds was dance. The United States was still digging out from the Great Depression and often children dropped out of school to work.

But nonetheless, the 29-year-old Balanchine believed a dance school was crucial to establishing a professional ballet company — which would become New York City Ballet. Now, 90 years later, the school he opened with 32 students has exploded into the most prestigious academy for young dancers in the United States.

Nearly 800 students from 34 states and 12 countries were enrolled at the school’s Lincoln Center campus in the most recent fiscal year, and graduates serve as artistic directors at more than 18 ballet programs around the country, including Los Angeles Ballet, Miami City Ballet and New York City Ballet.

“You would think things were at a standstill during the war,” said Coco Kopelman, an alumna of the school who has served on its board for nearly 30 years. “But artists still painted, music was still conceived, the arts continued.”

Coco Kopelman, center, an alumna of the school who has served on its board for 30 years, with her daughter, Jill Kargman, right, and her granddaughters Ivy Kargman, left, and Sadie Kargman.
Amanda Brotman, a designer.
Fern Clausius, a designer.
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