George Balanchine

George Balanchine

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George Balanchine born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia, to a Georgian
Georgians
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

 father and a Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 mother, was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States, co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Leon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company...

. He was a choreographer known for his musicality; he expressed music with dance and worked extensively with Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

. Thirty-nine of his more than 400 ballets were choreographed to music by Stravinsky.

Georgia and Russia


Balanchine's family comprised largely composers and soldiers. His father was the noted Georgian
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 Meliton Balanchivadze
Meliton Balanchivadze
Meliton Balanchivadze was a Georgian composer and one of the founders of Georgian classical music. His two sons, George Balanchine and Andria Balanchivadze, had illustrious careers, the former as a leading choreographer in the United States, and the latter as Soviet Georgia’s foremost classical...

 (1862–1937), one of the initiators of the Georgian Opera. George's brother, Andria Balanchivadze
Andria Balanchivadze
Andria Balanachivadze was a Georgian composer. He was the son of Meliton Balanchivadze, the composer, and brother of George Balanchine, the famous Georgian-American choreographer....

 (1906–1992), became a well-known Georgian composer. As a child, Balanchine was not particularly interested in ballet. His mother loved the arts and had the young Giorgi audition with his sister, who shared her mother's passion for ballet.

Based on his audition, during 1913 (at age nine) Balanchine relocated from rural Finland to Saint Petersburg and was accepted into the Imperial Ballet School, principal school of the Imperial Ballet
Mariinsky Ballet
The Mariinsky Ballet is a classical ballet company based at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies...

, where he was a student of Pavel Gerdt
Pavel Gerdt
Pavel Andreyevich Gerdt, also known as Paul Gerdt , was the Premier Danseur Noble of the Imperial Ballet, the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, and the Mariinsky Theatre for 56 years, making his debut in 1860, and retiring in 1916...

 and Samuil Andrianov (Pavel's son-in-law). After the Bolsheviks won the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, they closed and disbanded the school as an elitist symbol of the Czarist regime. To survive the privation and martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 of this period, Balanchine played the piano — for food, not for money — at cabarets and silent movie
Silent Movie
Silent Movie is a 1976 satirical comedy film co-written, directed by, and starring Mel Brooks, and released by 20th Century Fox on June 17, 1976...

 theaters. Eventually the Imperial Ballet School reopened, but with greatly reduced funding from the government. After graduating with honors in 1921, Balanchine enrolled in the Petrograd Conservatory
Saint Petersburg Conservatory
The N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory is a music school in Saint Petersburg. In 2004, the conservatory had around 275 faculty members and 1,400 students.-History:...

 while working in the corps de ballet
Corps de ballet
In ballet, the corps de ballet is the group of dancers who are not soloists. They are a permanent part of the ballet company and often work as a backdrop for the principal dancers. A corps de ballet works as one, with synchronized movements and corresponding positioning on the stage...

 at The State Academic Theater for Opera and Ballet (formerly the State Theater of Opera and Ballet
Mariinsky Ballet
The Mariinsky Ballet is a classical ballet company based at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies...

 and known as the Mariinsky Ballet). His studies at the conservatory included advanced piano, music theory, counterpoint, harmony, and composition. Balanchine graduated from the conservatory during 1923, and danced as a member of the corps until 1924.

While still in his teens, Balanchine choreographed his first work, a pas de deux
Pas de deux
In ballet, a pas de deux is a duet in which ballet dancers perform the dance together. It usually consists of an entrée, adagio, two variations , and a coda.-Notable Pas de deux:...

named La Nuit (1920, music by Anton Rubinstein
Anton Rubinstein
Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein was a Russian-Jewish pianist, composer and conductor. As a pianist he was regarded as a rival of Franz Liszt, and he ranks amongst the great keyboard virtuosos...

). This was followed by another duet, Enigma, with the dancers in bare feet rather than ballet shoes. During 1923, with fellow dancers, Balanchine formed a small ensemble, the Young Ballet. The choreography proved too experimental for the new authorities.

Marriages


In 1922, when Balanchine was eighteen years old, he married Tamara Geva
Tamara Geva
Tamara Geva was a Russian actress, ballet dancer and choreographer. She was the first wife of dancer/choreographer George Balanchine.-Biography:...

, a fifteen-year-old dancer. After his divorce from Geva, Balanchine was with Alexandra Danilova from 1926 through 1933. He married and divorced three more times, all to women who were his dancers: Vera Zorina
Vera Zorina
Vera Zorina was a Norwegian ballerina, musical theatre actress and choreographer.-Background:Vera Zorina was born Eva Brigitta Hartwig in Berlin, Germany. Her father Fritz was a German and her mother Billie Hartwig was Norwegian. Both were professional singers...

 (December 1938 – 1946), Maria Tallchief
Maria Tallchief
Maria Tallchief was the first native-American prima ballerina. From 1942 to 1947 she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but she is best known for her time with the New York City Ballet from 1947 to 1965.-Early life:...

 (1946–1952), and Tanaquil LeClercq (1952–1969). He did not have any children.

Escape to the West


On a 1924 visit to Germany
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 with the Soviet State Dancers, Balanchine, his wife Tamara Geva, and the dancers Alexandra Danilova
Alexandra Danilova
Aleksandra Dionisyevna Danilova was a Russian-born prima ballerina who became an American citizen....

, and Nicholas Efimov fled to Paris, where there was a large Russian community of families exiled by the Revolution. The impresario
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

 Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev , usually referred to outside of Russia as Serge, was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes, from which many famous dancers and choreographers would arise.-Early life and career:...

, another Russian exile, asked Balanchine to join his newly formed Ballets Russes
Ballets Russes
The Ballets Russes was an itinerant ballet company from Russia which performed between 1909 and 1929 in many countries. Directed by Sergei Diaghilev, it is regarded as the greatest ballet company of the 20th century. Many of its dancers originated from the Imperial Ballet of Saint Petersburg...

 as a choreographer. Diaghilev drew from all the contemporary arts to create a company with great influence.

Ballets Russes



Diaghilev soon promoted Balanchine to balletmaster of the company and promoted his choreography. Between 1924 and Diaghilev's death during 1929, Balanchine created nine ballets, as well as lesser works. During these years, he worked with major composers, such as Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, Erik Satie
Erik Satie
Éric Alfred Leslie Satie was a French composer and pianist. Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde...

 and Ravel, and artists who designed sets and costumes, such as Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Georges Rouault
Georges Rouault
Georges Henri Rouault[p] was a French Fauvist and Expressionist painter, and printmaker in lithography and etching.-Childhood and education:Rouault was born in Paris into a poor family...

, and Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

, creating new works that combined all the arts. Among his new works, during 1928 in Paris, Balanchine premiered Apollon musagète
Apollo (ballet)
Apollo is a ballet in two tableaux composed between 1927 and 1928 by Igor Stravinsky. It was choreographed by balletmaster George Balanchine in 1928, the composer contributing the libretto...

(Apollo and the muses) in a collaboration with Stravinsky; it was one of his most innovative ballets, combining classical ballet and classical Greek myth and images with jazz movement. He described it as "the turning point in my life".

Suffering a serious knee injury, Balanchine had to limit his dancing, effectively ending his performance career. After Diaghilev's death, the Ballets Russes became somewhat disorganized. To earn money, Balanchine began to stage dances for the Cochran Revues in London. He was retained by the Royal Danish Ballet
Royal Danish Ballet
The Royal Danish Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in the world. Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, it originates from 1748, when the Royal Danish Theatre was founded, and was finally organized in 1771 in response to the great popularity of French and Italian styles of dance...

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 as a guest ballet master.

When part of the Ballets Russes settled in Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco....

, Balanchine joined them and accepted a job as ballet master; directed by René Blum, the company was then named the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo
Original Ballet Russe
The Original Ballet Russe was a ballet company established in 1932 by René Blum and Colonel Wassily de Basil as a successor to the Ballets Russes. The company assumed the new name Original Ballet Russe after a split between de Basil and Blum...

. He choreographed three ballets: Cotillon, La Concurrence, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (ballet)
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to the Concert Suite of Richard Strauss with a libretto after Molière...

. His paramour in Monte Carlo was the young Tamara Toumanova
Tamara Toumanova
Tamara Toumanova was an American ballerina and actress. "Toumanova" was a stage name proposed by Olga Preobrazhenskaya, after her mother’s family name of Tumanishvili.-Personal life:...

, one of the original three "Baby Ballerinas
Baby Ballerinas
The Baby Ballerinas were three young principal dancers of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1930s. They were Irina Baronova, Tatiana Riabouchinska and Tamara Toumanova....

" which the director had selected from the Russian exile community of Paris.

When Blum gave control of the company to Colonel W. de Basil, Balanchine left the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo to act as principal choreographer for the newly-founded Les Ballets 1933. The company was financed by Edward James
Edward James
Edward William Frank James was a British poet known for his patronage of the surrealist art movement.-Early life and marriage:...

, a British ballet patron. Boris Kochno
Boris Kochno
Boris Kochno was a Russian poet, dancer and librettist. He was close with Karol Szymanowski who gave him as a gift a Russian translation of the chapter The Symposium from Efebos, the composer's unpublished novel. Szymanowski also dedicated four poems to him...

, Diaghilev's former secretary and companion, served as artistic advisor. The company lasted only a couple of months during 1933, performing only in Paris and London, when the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 made arts more difficult to fund. Balanchine created several new works, including collaborations with composers Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill
Kurt Julian Weill was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht...

, Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as The Group of Six—and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality...

, and Henri Sauguet
Henri Sauguet
Henri Sauguet , was a French composer. Born in Bordeaux as Henri-Pierre Poupard, he adopted his mother's maiden name as his pseudonym. His output includes operas, ballets, four symphonies , concertos, chamber and choral music and numerous songs, as well as film music...

, and designer Pavel Tchelitchew
Pavel Tchelitchew
Pavel Tchelitchew was a Russian-born surrealist painter, set designer and costume designer. He left Russia in 1920, lived in Berlin from 1921 to 1923, and moved to Paris in 1923. In Paris Tchelitchew became acquainted with Gertrude Stein and, through her, the Sitwell and Gorer families...

.

Lincoln Kirstein
Lincoln Kirstein
Lincoln Edward Kirstein was an American writer, impresario, art connoisseur, and cultural figure in New York City...

, a young American arts patron recently graduated from Harvard University, saw Les Ballets 1933. With the goal of establishing a ballet company in the United States, he met with and quickly persuaded Balanchine to relocate there with his assistance. By October of that year, Kirstein had brought Balanchine to New York, where he would begin influencing the character, training and techniques of American ballet and dance.

United States


Balanchine insisted that his first project would be to establish a ballet school because he wanted to develop dancers who had the strong technique and style he wanted. Compared to his classical training, he thought they could not dance well. With the assistance of Lincoln Kirstein and Edward M.M. Warburg, the School of American Ballet
School of American Ballet
The School of American Ballet is one of the most famous classical ballet schools in the world and is the associate school of the New York City Ballet, a leading international ballet company based at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The school trains students from the...

 opened to students on January 2, 1934, less than 3 months after Balanchine arrived in the U.S. Later that year, Balanchine had his students play a recital, where they premiered his new work Serenade
Serenade (ballet)
Serenade is a ballet by George Balanchine, subsequently co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet, to Tschaikovsky's 1880 Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48...

to music by Tchaikovsky at the Warburg's summer estate. The work, modified by Balanchine over the years, remains a signature work of New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Leon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company...

 nearly 80 years after its premiere.

Between his ballet activities in the 1930s and 1940s, Balanchine choreographed for musical theater with such notables as Richard Rodgers
Richard Rodgers
Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer of music for more than 900 songs and for 43 Broadway musicals. He also composed music for films and television. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II...

, Lorenz Hart
Lorenz Hart
Lorenz "Larry" Milton Hart was the lyricist half of the famed Broadway songwriting team Rodgers and Hart...

 and Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke was a Russian-American composer/songwriter, who also wrote under his original name Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for "Taking a Chance on Love" with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John Latouche, "I Can't Get Started" with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, "April in Paris" with lyrics by E. Y...

). He greatly admired Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

, describing him as "the most interesting, the most inventive, the most elegant dancer of our times... you see a little bit of Astaire in everybody's dancing—- a pause here, a move there. It was all Astaire originally."

During 1935, Balanchine formed a professional company named the American Ballet
American Ballet
The American Ballet was the first professional ballet company George Balanchine created in the United States. The company was founded with the help of Lincoln Kirstein and Edward Mortimer Morris Warburg, managed by Alexander Merovitch and populated by students of Kirstein and Balanchine's School of...

. After failing to organize a tour, the company began performing as the house company for the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

. In 1936, Balanchine staged Gluck's opera Orfeo and Eurydice
Orfeo ed Euridice
Orfeo ed Euridice is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing...

and during 1937 an evening of dance works all choreographed to the music of Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

.

Relocation to West Coast


Balanchine relocated his company to Hollywood during 1938, where he rented a white two-story house with "Kolya", Nicholas Kopeikine, his "rehearsal pianist and lifelong colleague", on North Fairfax Avenue not far from Hollywood Boulevard. Balanchine created dances for movies, some of which featured his wife Zorina and other of his dancers. He reconvened the company as the American Ballet Caravan and toured with it throughout North
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and South America, but it folded after several years. From 1944 to 1946, during and after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Balanchine served as resident choreographer for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Balanchine continued to work with contemporary composers, for example, setting The Four Temperaments
The Four Temperaments (ballet)
The Four Temperaments is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to music he commissioned from Paul Hindemith for the opening program of Ballet Society, immediate forerunner of City Ballet...

to music of the same name by Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

, a composition which he commissioned in 1940. First performed on November 20, 1946, the modernist work was one of his early abstract and spare ballets, angular and very different in movement.

Return to New York


Soon Balanchine formed a new dance company, Ballet Society, again with the generous help of Lincoln Kirstein. After several successful performances, the most notable featuring the ballet Orpheus
Orpheus (ballet)
Orpheus is a ballet made by George Balanchine on Ballet Society, which he founded together with Lincoln Kirstein and of which he was ballet master, to eponymous music from 1947 by Igor Stravinsky, his frequent collaborator, with sets and costumes by Isamu Noguchi.The premiere took place on April...

created in collaboration with Stravinsky and sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi
Isamu Noguchi
was a prominent Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces,...

, the City of New York offered the company residency at the New York City Center
New York City Center
New York City Center is a 2,750-seat Moorish Revival theater located at 131 West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan, New York City. It is one block south of Carnegie Hall...

. With that arrangement, Ballet Society officially became New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Leon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company...

 in 1948.

In 1954, Balanchine created his version of The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

, in which he played the mime role of Drosselmeyer. The company has since performed the ballet every year in New York City during the Christmas season
Christmas season
Christmastide is one of the seasons of the liturgical year of most Christian churches. It tends to be defined as the period from Christmas Eve to the evening of 5 January, the day before Epiphany...

. One of its most famous productions, The Nutcracker has been a money-making tradition for NYCB and other companies that perform it. It was filmed for theatrical release in 1993 by director Emile Ardolino
Emile Ardolino
Emile Ardolino was an American film director, choreographer, and producer, best known for his films Dirty Dancing and Sister Act .-Biography:...

, danced by NYCB with specially-written narration spoken by Kevin Kline
Kevin Kline
Kevin Delaney Kline is an American theatre, voice, film actor and comedian. He has won an Academy Award and two Tony Awards, and has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and an Emmy Award.- Early life :...

 and released on DVD by Warner Brothers Home Video.

When Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a complex of buildings in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of New York City's Upper West Side. Reynold Levy has been its president since 2002.-History and facilities:...

 was constructed, NYCB was offered the New York State Theater
New York State Theater
The David H. Koch Theater is a theater for ballet and opera, part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts located at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and 63rd Street in New York City, United States. Originally named the New York State Theater, the house has been home to both the New York...

 (renamed the David H. Koch Theater since 2008 when the billionaire made a donation of one hundred million dollars for major renovations). Balanchine collaborated with architect Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson
Philip Cortelyou Johnson was an influential American architect.In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later , as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture...

 in determining its design and finally had a theater large enough for the works he wanted to stage when the house opened in 1964. He often created large-scale works there, from American themes and Broadway, such as Stars and Stripes for the premiere performance, to drawing from European traditions and music, such as his 1977 Vienna Waltzes, a lavishly-designed one-hour ballet choreographed to music by Johann Strauss II
Johann Strauss II
Johann Strauss II , also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son , was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas...

, Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár was an Austrian-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow .-Biography:...

, and Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

.

During the 1960s, Balanchine created and revised nearly forty ballets including in 1965 a rare foray into the genre of evening-length story ballets, Don Quixote
Don Quixote (ballet)
Don Quixote is a ballet originally staged in four acts and eight scenes, based on an episode taken from the famous novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. It was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus and was first presented by the Ballet of the...

in which he played the title role. His created the lead female role for Suzanne Farrell
Suzanne Farrell
Suzanne Farrell is an eminent 20th century ballerina and the founder of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C....

, the young ballerina of whom he was greatly enamored at the time and for whom he would create many roles until the end of his career. Among the most notable is the Diamonds section of the plotless evening-length three-act ballet Jewels
Jewels (ballet)
Jewels is an award-winning ballet in three parts created for New York City Ballet by co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine. It premièred on Thursday,...

to music of Tchaikovsky. Some ballerinas, including his former wife Maria Tallchief
Maria Tallchief
Maria Tallchief was the first native-American prima ballerina. From 1942 to 1947 she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but she is best known for her time with the New York City Ballet from 1947 to 1965.-Early life:...

, quit the company, citing his obsession with Farrell as the reason. Balanchine obtained a Mexican divorce
Mexican divorce
In the 1960s, many Americans traveled south to obtain a "Mexican divorce". A Mexican divorce was easier, quicker, and less expensive than a divorce in most states. Celebrities who obtained a Mexican divorce include Johnny Carson, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Burton, Marilyn Monroe, and Don Hewitt. It...

 from then-wife Tanaquil LeClercq during this time.

In the summer of 1972, a year after the death of Stravinsky, Balanchine staged another Stravinsky Festival, for which he choreographed several major new works including the "miracle" ballets Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Symphony in Three Movements
Symphony in Three Movements
Symphony in Three Movements is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine for opening night of its Stravinsky Festival to the composers's eponymous symphony from 1942–45, and lighting by Mark Stanley...

,
both of which premiered on June 18, 1972.

Death


After years of illness, Balanchine died on April 30, 1983 in New York City of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, diagnosed only after his death. He first showed symptoms during 1978 when he began losing his balance while dancing. As the disease progressed, his equilibrium, eyesight and hearing deteriorated. By 1982, he was incapacitated. The night of his death, the company went on with its scheduled performance which included Divertimento No. 15 and Symphony in C
Symphony in C (ballet)
Symphony in C, originally titled Le Palais de Cristal, is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to Bizet's Symphony in C , which he wrote at the age of 17 while studying with Charles Gounod at the Paris Conservatory...

at Lincoln Center. In his last years, Balanchine also suffered from angina and underwent heart bypass surgery.

Legacy and honors

  • 1978, Balanchine received the Kennedy Center Honors Award the first year the awards were given.
  • With his School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet, and 400 choreographed works, Balanchine transformed American dance and created modern ballet, developing a unique style with his dancers highlighted by brilliant speed and attack.
  • 1987, posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Dance C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame
    National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame
    The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, in the Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga, New York, was established in 1986 and is the only museum in the nation dedicated entirely to dance. It contains photographs, videos, artifacts, costumes and biographies. The museum is located in the former and...

    .
  • Presidential Freedom of Honor Medal
  • Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration

for the Ballets Russes

  • Le Chant du Rossignol (The Song of the Nightingale) (1925)
  • Jack in the Box (1926)
  • Pastorale (1926)
  • Barabau (1926)
  • La Chatte (1927)
  • Le Triomphe de Neptune (1927)
  • Apollo
    Apollo (ballet)
    Apollo is a ballet in two tableaux composed between 1927 and 1928 by Igor Stravinsky. It was choreographed by balletmaster George Balanchine in 1928, the composer contributing the libretto...

    (1928)
  • The Prodigal Son (1929)
  • Le Bal (1929)

for the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo

  • Cotillon (1932)
  • Concurrence (1932)
  • Balustrade (1941)
  • Danses Concertantes (1944 and 1972)
  • La Sonnambula (1946)

for Les Ballets 1933

  • The Seven Deadly Sins (1933)
  • Errante (1933)
  • Les Songes (1933)
  • Fastes (1933)

for the American Ballet

  • Alma Mater (1934)
  • Les Songes (Dreams) (1934)
  • Mozartiana (1934)
  • Serenade
    Serenade (ballet)
    Serenade is a ballet by George Balanchine, subsequently co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet, to Tschaikovsky's 1880 Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48...

    (1935)
  • Errante (1935)
  • Reminiscence (1935)
  • Jeu de cartes
    Jeu de cartes (ballet)
    Jeu de cartes is a ballet in three deals by Igor Stravinsky, composed in 1936–37, with the story by the composer in collaboration with M. Malaieff and choreography by George Balanchine...

    (variously, Card Game or The Card Party) (1937)
  • Le Baiser de la Fée (originally titled The Fairy's Kiss) (1937)

for Broadway

  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1936
    Ziegfeld Follies
    The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air....

    • Island in the West Indies
    • Maharanee
  • On Your Toes
    On Your Toes
    On Your Toes is a musical with a book by Richard Rodgers, George Abbott, and Lorenz Hart, music by Rodgers, and lyrics by Hart. It was adapted into a film in 1939....

    by Rodgers
    Richard Rodgers
    Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer of music for more than 900 songs and for 43 Broadway musicals. He also composed music for films and television. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II...

     and Hart
    Lorenz Hart
    Lorenz "Larry" Milton Hart was the lyricist half of the famed Broadway songwriting team Rodgers and Hart...

    • Princess Zenobia Ballet (1936)
    • Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
      Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
      Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a ballet with music by Richard Rodgers and choreography by George Balanchine. It occurs near the end of Rodgers and Hart's 1936 Broadway musical comedy On Your Toes. Slaughter is the story of a hoofer who falls in love with a dance hall girl who is then shot and killed...

      (1936)
This dramatic ballet served as the climax of this musical production and has subsequently been presented as a stand-alone piece; however, several of the sung numbers in the show featured dance routines as well, notably the title number.
    • Where's Charley? -- Choreographer—Score—words and music—by Frank Loesser. Starred Ray Bolger From Oct 11, 1948 - Sept. 9, 1950
    • Song of Norway -- Choreographer—Aug 21, 1944 - Sept 7, 19. Choreographer
    • Cabin in the Sky -- Choreographer—Oct 25, 1940 - Mar 8, 1941
    • Louisiana Purchase -- Choreographer—May 28, 1940 - June 14, 1941
    • The Boys from Syracuse -- Choreographer—Nov 23, 1938 - Jun 10, 1939. Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart
    • I Married an Angel -- Choreographer—May 11, 1938 - Feb 25, 1939. Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart
    • Babes in Arms -- Choreographer—Apr 14, 1937 - Dec 18, 1937. Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart

for American Ballet Caravan

  • Encounter (1936)
  • Ballet Imperial (later referred to as the Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2) (1941)
  • Concerto Barocco (1941)

for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

  • Song of Norway (1944)
  • Danses Concertantes (1944)
  • Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1944)
  • Pas de Deux (Grand adagio) (1945)
  • The Night Shadow (1946)
  • Raymonda
    Raymonda
    Raymonda is a ballet in three acts, four scenes with an apotheosis, choreographed by Marius Petipa, with music by Alexander Glazunov, his opus 57. First presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre on in St. Petersburg, Russia...

    (1946)

for the Ballet Theatre

  • Waltz Academy (1944)
  • Theme and Variations
    Theme and Variations (ballet)
    Theme and Variations is a ballet by George Balanchine to the final movement of Tschaikovsky's Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G major, Op. 55 . The premiere took place November 26, 1947, with Ballet Theatre at City Center of Music and Drama. Theme and Variations was conceived specially for Alicia...

    (1947)

for the Ballet Society

  • The Four Temperaments
    The Four Temperaments (ballet)
    The Four Temperaments is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to music he commissioned from Paul Hindemith for the opening program of Ballet Society, immediate forerunner of City Ballet...

    (1946)
  • L'enfant et Les Sortilèges (The Spellbound Child) (1946)
  • Haieff Divertimento (1947)
  • Symphonie Concertante (1947)
  • Orpheus
    Orpheus (ballet)
    Orpheus is a ballet made by George Balanchine on Ballet Society, which he founded together with Lincoln Kirstein and of which he was ballet master, to eponymous music from 1947 by Igor Stravinsky, his frequent collaborator, with sets and costumes by Isamu Noguchi.The premiere took place on April...

    (1948)

for the Paris Opera Ballet

  • Palais de Cristal (renamed Symphony in C
    Symphony in C (ballet)
    Symphony in C, originally titled Le Palais de Cristal, is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to Bizet's Symphony in C , which he wrote at the age of 17 while studying with Charles Gounod at the Paris Conservatory...

    ) (1947)

for the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas

  • Minkus Pas De Trois (1948)

Le Lourve de fait(1948)

for New York City Ballet

  • La Sonnambula (1946)
  • Bourrée Fantasque (1949)
  • The Firebird
    The Firebird
    The Firebird is a 1910 ballet created by the composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Michel Fokine. The ballet is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird of the same name that is both a blessing and a curse to its captor....

    (1949; later revised with Jerome Robbins
    Jerome Robbins
    Jerome Robbins was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. His work has included everything from classical ballet to contemporary musical theater...

    )
  • Sylvia Pas De Deux (1950)
  • Swan Lake
    Swan Lake (Balanchine)
    Swan Lake is a one-act ballet made by New York City Ballet's co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine after Lev Ivanov to Tschaikovsky'seponymous music...

    (after Lev Ivanov
    Lev Ivanov
    Lev Ivanovich Ivanov was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer and later, Second Balletmaster of the Imperial Ballet....

    )
    (1951)
  • La Valse (1951)
  • Harlequinade Pas De Deux (1952)
  • Metamorphoses (1952)
  • Scotch Symphony (1952)
  • Valse Fantaisie (1953/1967)
  • The Nutcracker
    The Nutcracker
    The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

    (1954)
  • Ivesiana (1954)
  • Western Symphony
    Western Symphony
    Western Symphony is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to music arranged by Hershy Kay. The premiere, Tuesday, September 7th, 1954, at City Center of Music and Drama, New York, was conducted by Leon Barzin and presented in practice clothes...

    (1954)
  • Glinka Pas De Trois (1955)
  • Pas De Dix (1955)
  • Divertimento No. 15 (1956)
  • Allegro Brillante (1956)
  • Agon
    Agon (ballet)
    Agon is a ballet for twelve dancers, with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine. Composition began in December 1953 and concluded in April 1957; the music was first performed on June 17, 1957 in Los Angeles conducted by Robert Craft, while the first stage performance was...

    (1957)
  • Square Dance
    Square Dance (ballet)
    Square Dance is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmasterGeorge Balanchine to Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto Grosso in B minor and the first movement of his Concerto Grosso in E major, Op. 3, nos. 10 and 12, respectively; in 1976 he added Arcangelo Corelli's Sarabanda, Badinerie...

    (1957)
  • Gounod Symphony (1958)
  • Stars and Stripes
    Stars and Stripes (ballet)
    Stars and Stripes is a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine in 1958, using original music by John Philip Sousa and performed in 5 acts . It lasts an average of 28 minutes...

    (a ballet in 5 "campaigns")' (1958)
  • Episodes
    Episodes (ballet)
    Episodes is a two-part ballet made by Martha Graham and George Balanchine to Anton von Webern's Symphony, Op. 21; Five Pieces, Op. 10; Concerto, Op. 24; and the Ricercata in Six Voices from Bach's Musical Offering which Webern had arranged in homage to Bach as Balanchine conceived the ballet as...

    (1959)
  • Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
    Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
    The Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to an excerpt from Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act III, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky...

    (1960)
  • Monumentum pro Gesualdo (1960)
  • Donizetti Variations (1960)
  • Liebeslieder Walzer
    Liebeslieder Walzer
    Liebeslieder Walzer is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder, op. 52, 1869, and Neue Liebeslieder, op. 65, 1874, waltzes for piano duet and vocal quartet, set to poems by Daumer and Goethe...

    (1960)
  • Raymonda Variations (1961)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    A Midsummer Night's Dream (ballet)
    A Midsummer Night's Dream is a two-act ballet choreographed by George Balanchine to Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for Shakespeare's play of the same name. In addition to the incidental music, Balanchine incorporated other Mendelssohn works into the ballet including Overtures to Athalie, Son...

    (1962)
  • Bugaku
    Bugaku (ballet)
    Bugaku is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to eponymous music by Toshiro Mayuzumi commissioned by City Ballet in 1962. The premiere took place on March 30, 1963, at City Center of Music and Drama, New York, with scenery by David Hays, costumes by...

    (1963)
  • Meditation (1963)
  • Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1963)
  • Harlequinade (1965)
  • Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (1966)
  • Jewels
    Jewels (ballet)
    Jewels is an award-winning ballet in three parts created for New York City Ballet by co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine. It premièred on Thursday,...

    (1967)
    • Emeralds
    • Rubies
    • Diamonds
  • La Source
    La source (Balanchine)
    La Source is a ballet made on New York City Ballet by its founding balletmaster George Balanchine. The premiere took place on November 23, 1968, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center....

    (1968)
  • Who Cares (1970)
  • Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (1970)
  • Stravinsky Festival (1972)
    • Pulcinella
      Pulcinella (ballet)
      Pulcinella is a ballet by Igor Stravinsky based on an 18th-century play — Pulcinella is a character originating from Commedia dell'arte. The ballet premiered at the Paris Opera on 15 May 1920 under the baton of Ernest Ansermet. The dancer Léonide Massine created both the libretto and choreography,...

      (with Jerome Robbins
      Jerome Robbins
      Jerome Robbins was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. His work has included everything from classical ballet to contemporary musical theater...

      )
    • Stravinsky Violin Concerto
    • Symphony in Three Movements
      Symphony in Three Movements
      Symphony in Three Movements is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine for opening night of its Stravinsky Festival to the composers's eponymous symphony from 1942–45, and lighting by Mark Stanley...

    • Duo Concertant
    • Lost Sonata
    • Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la fée"
    • Choral Variations on Bach's "Vom Himmel Hoch"
    • Danses Concertantes
    • Scherzo Á La Russe
  • Cortège Hongrois (1973)
  • Coppélia
    Coppélia
    Coppélia is a sentimental comic ballet with original choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon to a ballet libretto by Saint-Léon and Charles Nuitter and music by Léo Delibes. It was based upon two macabre stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Der Sandmann , and Die Puppe...

    (1974)
  • Variations pour une porte et un soupir (1974)
  • Ravel Festival (1975)
    • Sonatine
    • Tzigane
    • Le tombeau de Couperin
      Le Tombeau de Couperin (ballet)
      Le tombeau de Couperin is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to Maurice Ravel's 1919 music of the same title and orchestrated by the composer 1920...

    • Pavane
    • Shéhérazade
    • Gaspard de la Nuit
    • Rapsodie Espagnole
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier
    The Steadfast Tin Soldier (ballet)
    The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a ballet made on New York City Ballet by co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to Bizet's Jeux d'enfants , Op. 22, Nos. 6, 3, 11 and 12....

    (1975)
  • Chaconne
    Chaconne (ballet)
    Chaconne is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to ballet music from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice . The premiere took place Wednesday, January 22nd, 1976, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center with lighting by Ronald Bates; Robert Irving conducted...

    (1976)
  • Union Jack
    Union Jack (ballet)
    Union Jack is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to traditional British tunes, hornpipe melodies and music-hall songs, ca...

    (1976)
  • Vienna Waltzes (1977)
  • Ballo della Regina (1978)
  • Kammermusik No. 2 (1978)
  • Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze (1980)
  • Walpurgisnacht Ballet (1980)
  • Tschaikovsky Festival (1981)
    • Garland Dance from The Sleeping Beauty
    • Mozartiana
  • Stravinsky Centennial Celebration (1982)
    • Élégie

for New York City Opera

  • Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
    Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (ballet)
    Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and balletmaster George Balanchine to the Concert Suite of Richard Strauss with a libretto after Molière...

    (1979)

See also


  • :Category:Ballets by George Balanchine

Articles

  • http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C00E6DE143AF933A05755C0A9659C8B63NY Times by Anna Kisselgoff
    Anna Kisselgoff
    Anna Kisselgoff is a dance critic and cultural news reporter for the New York Times. She began at the Times as a dance critic and cultural news reporter in 1968, and became its Chief Dance Critic in 1977, a role she held until 2005...

    , June 30, 2003]
  • http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21878"Keeper of the Jewels", The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

    , volume 55, number 15, by Robert Gottlieb
    Robert Gottlieb
    Robert Adams Gottlieb , is an American writer and editor. From 1987 to 1992 he was the editor of The New Yorker.-Personal:Robert Gottlieb was born in New York City in 1931 and grew up in Manhattan...

    , October 9, 2008]

Obituaries


External links





Listening