George Balanchine

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George Balanchine
Born Giorgi Balanchivadze
January 22, 1904(1904-01-22)
St. Petersburg, Russia
Died April 30, 1983(1983-04-30) (aged 79)
New York City
Occupation choreographer, actor, director
Years active 1929–1983
Spouse Tamara Geva (1921–1926)
Vera Zorina (1938–1946)
Maria Tallchief (1946–1952)
Tanaquil LeClercq (1952–1969)
Awards Légion d'honneur (1975) Presidential Medal of Freedom (1983)
Architect Philip Johnson designed the New York State Theater to Balanchine's specifications.

George Balanchine (Saint Petersburg, January 22, 1904 – New York, April 30, 1983) was a ballet dancer and choreographer. His father was Georgian and his mother Russian.[1]

He was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers. He developed over 200 ballets,[2] mostly in the United States. He was the co-founder and balletmaster of the New York City Ballet.[3] He was a choreographer known for his musicality. He often with Igor Stravinsky: 39 of his ballets were choreographed to music by Stravinsky.[4]

Career[change | change source]

Balanchine was trained at the Imperial Ballet School in St Petersburg. After the Revolution he joined what is now the Mariinsky Ballet. He escaped when the company toured Germany. He was picked up by Sergei Diaghilev to be a dancer and choreographer for the Ballets Russes.

After Diaghilev's death, Balanchine stayed in Europe until 1933. Then he was taken to New York by a wealthy patron, Lincoln Kirstein. Together they formed the American Ballet School. Later they formed the American Ballet Company. This company became the 'house' dance group of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Later, in 1938, Balanchine moved the company to Hollywood.

In 1948 he moved back to New York. This was to head the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater. He designed this theater. From 1946 to 1982 he choreographed many dances for this company. Balanchine died in 1983 of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Marriages[change | change source]

In 1922 18 year old Balanchine married 15 year old Tamara Geva. 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. There was Vera Zorina (December 1938–1946), Maria Tallchief (1946–1952), and Tanaquil Le Clercq (1952–1969). He did not have any children.

References[change | change source]

  1. Anna Kisselgoff (June 29, 2004). "Georgia troupe joins tribute to Balanchine". NY Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05EEDB1438F93AA15755C0A9629C8B63. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  2. Crane, Debra and Mackrell, Judith 2000. The Oxford dictionary of dance. Oxford University Press. p39
  3. Joseph Horowitz (2008). "Artists in exile: how refugees from twentieth-century war and revolution transformed the American performing arts". HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-074846-X . http://josephhorowitz.com/content.asp?elemento_id=58.
  4. "Balanchine", American Masters, PBS, available on DVD.