Christopher Wheeldon

Polyphonia is a single act ballet, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon for the New York City Ballet, built on music by György Ligeti and with costumes designed by Holly Hynes. It premièred on 4 January 2001 in the New York State Theatre. It is considered a breaking point in Wheeldon’s work and it won the Laurence Olivier prize in 2003 for best new dance production.

  • World premiere: Absolute première by the New York City Ballet, in Nueva York (USA), 4 January 2001.
  • CND premiere: Première by the Compañía Nacional de Danza at Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria, Santander (Spain), 25th February 2022.

Polyphonia is Wheeldon’s first ballet creation on his appointment as resident artist at the New York City Ballet after retiring as a performing dancer. There is no plot. Wheelon has described it as “romantic with comic turns” and he said it was inspired on the works of Norman Morrice, though the critics have also seen it as a homage to Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine—especially with reference to the latter’s ‘leotard ballets’. The title is a reference to the micro-polyphonic music developed by György Ligeti, based on polyphonic textures.


  • Choreography:
    Christopher Wheeldon
  • Music:
    György Ligeti (1923-2006) Désordre from Études pour piano, premier livre (1985) / Arc-en-ciel from Études pour piano, premier livre (1985) / No. 4 Tempo di Valse from Musica Ricercata (1951-53) / Invention (1948) / No. 8 Vivace energico from Musica Ricercata (1951-53) /No. 2 Hopp ide tisztán from Three Wedding Dances (1950) / No. 7 Cantabile molto legato from Musica Ricercata (1951-53) / No. 3 Allegro con spirito from Musica Ricercata (1951-53) / No. 2 Mesto, rigido e cerimoniale from Musica Ricercata (1951-53) / Capriccio No. 2 – Allegro robusto (1947)
  • Figurines:
    Holly Hynes
  • Lighting design:
    Mark Stanley
  • Choreographic Assistant:
    Jason Fowler
  • Duration:
    27 minutes