New York City Ballet will add Peter Martins' production of La Sylphide, the quintessential Bournonville ballet, to its repertoire next year. Martins debuted his version in 1985 at Pennsylvania Ballet. Now, 30 years later, it comes to Martins' own company.
La Sylphide has long been a staple of the Royal Danish Ballet, where Martins started his career. Bringing the work to NYCB, he says, is a very personal gesture. "This is an homage to my Danish heritage, as the ballets of Bournonville are the foundation of my own technique." Bournonville also informs the technique of many NYCB dancers. Those who attend the School of American Ballet are exposed to the style during their training. Martins' Sylphide—which will be paired with a revival of Stanley Williams' Bournonville Divertissements—will reinforce NYCB's connection to the style.
Martins sees Balanchine and Bournonville as kindred spirits in the innovations they brought to the art form. Balanchine was "a huge admirer" of Bournonville, Martins says. "He once said to me, 'You know what made Bournonville so great? He entertained with steps.' The same can be said for Balanchine."