Edward Gorey, an author and illustrator known for his macabre stories was very passionate about ballet. One of his most well-known books is The Gilded Bat, the story of how Maudie, a girl given to staring at dead birds, is transformed into Mirelle, a chic and mysterious prima ballerina. The woeful tale chronicles her journey from fame to dreadful demise, and in typical Gorey style, mixes in humor by including ballet puns and jokes.
Gorey was a great fan of dances by George Balanchine and for thirty years (c. 1957-1982) regularly attended performances at the New York City Ballet. In 1973, his book The Lavender Leotard: or Going a lot to the New York Ballet was published as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the company. The Lavender Leotard includes caricatures of several decades of the New York City Ballet, complete with personalities, events and atmospheres.
As an enthusiastic supporter of the company, he created posters that could be printed as merchandise and sold in their gift store. An example is New York City Ballet, an eye-catching lithograph on paper that promotes the company in a whimsical way. Gorey organized the poster as a wide column with nine rows with a black background. A pattern of a wide row with an illustrated beige colored pair of feet in ascending order from first to fifth position skips with a slimmer row with a word in all caps spelling out the company name NEW YORK CITY BALLET. Gorey’s design choice to use the basic positions of ballet is clever and creates an image that any dance enthusiast can appreciate.