Balanchine’s tribute to the refined elegance of Japanese music and dance originated in visits by New York City Ballet to Japan in 1958 and by the Gagaku Company of the Imperial Household to the United States in 1959. In 1962, Balanchine commissioned Mayuzumi to compose music suggesting Bugaku, the dance portion of a Gagaku performance, but using Western instrumentation. The red, green, and white of the setting, the balanced dances to the left and the right, the stylized movement, the ritualistic mood, the respect shown for the dance, and the supreme courtesy of the dancers to each other are faithful to Gagaku traditions. The intricacy of the pas de deux and the variety of movement are characteristic of the choreographer.

Toshiro Mayuzumi (1929-1997) was educated at the Tokyo University of Art and Music and the Paris Conservatory. His music has been published and performed in the United States, England, and Europe.

Repertory notes provided courtesy of and adapted from New York City Ballet Online Repertory Index. Additional sources: Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works, An Eakins Press Foundation Book, published by Viking (1984); and Repertory in Review: 40 Years of the New York City Ballet by Nancy Reynolds (1970; The Dial Press).
Photo credit: Photo © Paul Kolnik
Choreography:  George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Music:  Bugaku
Composer:  Mayuzumi, Toshiro
Premiere:  1963
Average Length:  25 minutes
No. Dancers:  10