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New York City Ballet's Spring 2014 Gala Features Sufjan Stevens, CAROUSEL and Kristen Bell Tonight

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New York City Ballet's Spring 2014 Gala Features Sufjan Stevens, CAROUSEL and Kristen Bell Tonight

New York City Ballet hosts its 2014 Spring Gala tonight, May 8 at 7pm, featuring a special one-time-only program designed by NYCB's Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the opening of the New York State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater) at Lincoln Center, as well as celebrate its future with a World Premiere ballet by choreographer Justin Peck and composer Sufjan Stevens.

The first half of the evening will feature works that were performed at the theater's inaugural performances in April 1964, including George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, which was created in 1956 to music by Tschaikovsky, and Igor Stravinsky's Fanfare for a New Theater, which was composed in 1964 for the opening of the theater.

The inaugural performance also included excerpts from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, and for the 2014 Spring Gala the actress and singer Kristen Bell will perform an excerpt from the beloved 1945 Broadway musical. The Music Theater of Lincoln Center, which was directed by Richard Rodgers, was one of the original resident companies of the New York State Theater, and presented musical theater productions at the venue from 1964 to 1969.

Bell, whose studied musical theater at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, recently voiced the starring role of Princess Anna in Disney's Oscar-winning animated film Frozen. She made her Broadway debut as Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 2001, and is best known as the title character Veronica Mars in both the television series and feature film. Bell has also appeared in numerous films and television projects, including Showtime's House of Lies, When in Rome, and the title character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

The second half of the evening will feature a world premiere ballet by the young choreographer and NYCB Soloist Justin Peck, set to a commissioned score by the acclaimed musician and composer Sufjan Stevens. The Peck/Stevens world premiere will celebrate the extraordinary legacy of new work created by the New York City Ballet since taking up residency at Lincoln Center in 1964. NYCB has presented more than 300 world premieres on the theater's stage during the past 50 years.

Designed by the legendary architect Philip Johnson and built especially for George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, the New York State Theater was the second venue to open on the Lincoln Center campus, following Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) which opened 1962. (New York City Ballet was co-founded by Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein at the City Center of Music and Drama in 1948.)

Fifty years since its opening and renamed the David H. Koch Theater in 2008, the theater is widely considered to be one of the world's finest venues for dance. In addition to 21 weeks of performance by New York City Ballet each year, the theater also plays host to dance companies from around the world, as well as annual seasons by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

For the second half of the Spring Gala program, NYCB will present a world premiere ballet by choreographer and NYCB Soloist Justin Peck, set to a commissioned score by the acclaimed American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens, which will be performed by the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Peck and Stevens previously collaborated on Year of the Rabbit, which was created for NYCB in 2012. This will be the sixth work that Peck has choreographed for NYCB in the past two years.

The new Peck/Stevens ballet, which is being created for 25 dancers, will feature costumes designed by Janie Taylor, the former NYCB Principal Dancer who retired from dancing with the Company at the end of the 2013 Winter Season. The ballet will also feature a set designed by Karl Jensen, a Brooklyn-based sculptor and architect, with lighting design by Brandon Baker, who also created the lighting for Year of the Rabbit.

For the 50th anniversary of the David H. Koch Theater, 15 former NYCB Principal Dancers, all of whom were either principals, soloists or corps de ballet members during the theater's inaugural season, will make up a special 50th Anniversary Dancer Committee, many of whom take part in an on-stage tribute to the dancers of 1964 as part of the gala performance. The dancers making up the committee are Jacques d'Amboise, Suzanne Farrell, Jillana, Allegra Kent, Sara Leland, Conrad Ludlow, Kay Mazzo, Patricia McBride, Arthur Mitchell, Mimi Paul, Suki Schorer, Violette Verdy, Edward Villella, Karin von Aroldingen, and Patricia Wilde.

Tickets to the performance start at only $29 and are available online at nycballet.com, by calling 212-496-0600, or in person at the David H. Koch Theater Box Office. Benefit-priced tickets for the gala evening, which include the 7pm performance, a 5:30pm pre-performance reception, and black-tie supper ball following the performance, are available through the NYCB Special Events Office at 212-870-5585.

New York City Ballet's 2014 Spring Season will take place from April 29 through June 8. The David H. Koch Theater is located at Lincoln Center at Columbus Avenue and West 63rd Street. For more information on New York City Ballet visit nycballet.com or call 212-496-0600.

Pictured: Kristen Bell. Photo by Picture Perfect/Rob LaTour/REX USA.

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