Choreographer. The son of a composer, he began studying the piano at the age of five and started his dance studies at the age of nine at the St. Petersburg academy. He was graduated from the Imperial Ballet School in 1921 and then enrolled in the state's Conservatory of Music where he studied piano and musical theory for three years. His own dancing debut was at the age of ten as a cupid in THE SLEEPING BEAUTY. He was invited by impresario Sergei Diaghilev, together with Tamara Geva, his first wife; Alexandra Danilova and Nicholas Efimov; to audition for his Ballets Russes in Paris where they were all accepted. After forming his own company Les Ballets, collaborating with Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, he persuaded to come to the United States in late 1935 by Lincoln Kirstein, the Boston born dance connoisseur. The School of American Ballet opened its doors the following year with its first class on January 2, 1934. That same year the Metropolitan Opera invited the Company to become its resident ballet, with Balanchine as the Met's ballet master. On October 11, 1948, the New York City Ballet was born and from that time until his death, he served as artistic director, choreographing either wholly or in part the majority of the productions. An authoritative catalogue of his works lists 465 works created by Balanchine in his lifetime, beginning with a pas de deux in 1920 (LA NUIT) and ending with a solo, VARIATIONS FOR ORCHESTRA. "It is hard to think of the ballet world without the colossal presence of George Balanchine...Now he is gone and, as Lincoln Kirstein said in his brief and infinitely apt curtain speech, "Mr. B. is with Mozart and Tschaikovsky and Stravinsky." But we have not lost Balanchine, not the essential Balanchine, who lives in the great catalogue of masterpieces that have so shaped and refined our understanding of ballet and given it, and us, thrilling life.
Bio by: D C McJonathan-Swarm