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New York City Ballet celebrates 75th anniversary with show featuring dancers from first performance

New York City Ballet celebrates 75 years
New York City Ballet celebrates 75 years 01:34

One of the best-known dance companies in the world is taking a bow with the celebration of a major milestone.

It was a joyful moment on stage when the New York City Ballet marked 75 years of excellence with a performance that included dancers from the program's very beginning.

Ruth Lawrence Doering was 16 when she starred in the ballet's first performance in 1948.

"Look how much the seats were, $3!" she exclaimed, looking at a cherished old program.

But during that first show, her shoe broke mid-performance.

"The show must go on. I mean, what am I gonna say? 'Excuse me, please. I have to go off stage and fix my shoe?' she said. "Yeah, no, you do what you have to do."

Doering said the applause from the audience on that first night was "thunderous."

The first performance was borne out of the creative genius of renowned choreographer and company co-founder George Balanchine. 

The company's first female associate artistic director, Wendy Whelan, a former principal dancer, now helps decide what's performed.

"Balanchine would commission female choreographers, always a little bit," she told CBS News. "Now we have a full-on commitment to it. But especially to diverse women. That's very, very important to me."

The company today is one of the world's most prestigious.

"Nobody knew it was gonna be this great company," Doering said. "It's wonderful."

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