I was talking about this with a friend today. We saw Nine Sinatra Songs at PNB this afternoon, which MCB has performed -- including two selections for the Guggenheim series for the Balanchine Centennial -- which Pennsylvania Ballet performed last February, and which will appear on Colorado Ballet's March/April 2006 program.
Is there something about keeping up with the Joneses or "I'll show you" or "There's a good idea" among ballet ADs? Or is it just coincidence that the same ballets turn up at nearly the same time? With a repertory as large as Balanchine's to draw on? I'm not exactly complaining, but I certainly am curious.
I know that the Balanchine and Robbins Foundations control who gets to do what ballets, and there seems to be a pattern of being allowed to do some of them after achieving a certain level, and then only some of them when a company has the financial resources to recreate elaborate and expensive original sets and costumes (ex: Liebeslieder Walzer). Since many companies want to perform these works, a number of them are close in the progression allowed by the Foundations. Francia Russell staged La Valse in 1996 and 2000; Peter Boal has scheduled it for the March 16-26 program, along with a revival of Val Caniparoli's The Bridge and a new work by Dominique Dumais. For PNB this could have been logistical: I believe they own the sets and costumes, and Russell stages ballets she learned from Balanchine; while not an insubstantial number, I don't know if she stages anything later than the late 60's or early 70's. While it's hard to imagine that La Valse is an over-the-top box office draw, I could see Artistic Directors and marketing departments looking at a successful production of Nine Sinatra Songs and thinking that the work would be a big draw and possibly attract new audiences. La Valse has the advantage of glamour, recognizable music, three dramatic lead roles, and a number of soloist and demi-soloist roles in the "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" section.
The same thing seems to happen with opera, even after co-productions and the Handel revival are eliminated from the mix. For some reason, among lesser-performed Verdi, MacBeth seems to be having a number of revivals clustered together, following last year's Un Ballo in Maschera, and I've seen a number of regional companies producing Cosi Fan Tutte.