Skip to main content

Update browser for a secure experience

It looks like you may be using a web browser version that we don't support. Make sure you're using the most recent version of your browser, or try using of these supported browsers, to get the full experience: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.





George Balanchine


Igor Stravinsky
32 minutes

George Balanchine’s Agon is a tour de force set to a groundbreaking Stravinsky score that features twelve dancers creating mesmerizing movement as they come together in pairs, trios, and quartets.

Program Note

Choreographed in 1957, Agon was a collaboration between composer Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine. Together they devised a sequence of musical numbers and dances that updated forms from the 17th century, such as the “sarabande” (a stately court dance), the “gaillard,” and the “branle.”  The title is the Greek word for “contest,” and through this and the work’s linear, geometrical look, Balanchine’s 1928 masterpiece, Apollo, is invoked.  Combining two frames of historical reference—ancient Greece and baroque France—with a modern sensibility, Agon is perhaps Balanchine’s most distilled synthesis of classical and modern art, and one of the most influential works of art of the 20th century.

Agon is packed with verbal and intellectual puns (though one need not know that to enjoy the ballet).
For example, the work has 12 dancers who interact in both symmetrical and asymmetrical arrangements of the number 12, and the music, which is composed on the 12-tone scale, develops its own 12-sided patterns. The work, labeled “world-conquering” by dance critic Arlene Croce, is completely engrossing.

The heart of the work is an extended pas de deux for the leading couple which departs from classical pas de deux form, and from Balanchine’s usual observance of that form.  The duet is built on the sustained, prolonged intertwining of the two dancers rather than being structured as a supported adagio followed by separate variations and a coda. It offers scarcely a break as it builds in tension, offering images of a bond that is tested but not broken.  Perhaps more than any other part of Agon, the dramatic pas de deux has influenced other artists’ ballets, and the dynamics and form of choreographed relationships.

Adapted from a note by Anita Finkel
Miami City Ballet premiere on January 26, 1995 at Dade County Auditorium;  Miami, FL.
“The performance of Agon, a Balanchine® Ballet, is presented by arrangement with The George Balanchine Trust and has been produced in accordance with the Balanchine Style® and Balanchine Technique® , Service Standards established and provided by the Trust.”

Ballet Credits

Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Music by Igor Stravinsky*

Staged by Amar Ramasar

Costume Design by Karinska

Lighting Design by John D. Hall

*Agon, by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., publisher and copyright owner.