“I don’t want people who want to dance. I want people who have to dance.”
George Balanchine also known as “The Father of American Ballet” is arguably one of the most influential people in ballet as we know it today. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1904, Balanchine received his formal ballet training at the Imperial Ballet School. He made is stage debut at the age of 10 in the Maryinsky Theatre Ballet Company’s production of The Sleeping Beauty and at age 17 joined their corps de ballet and went on to have an career dancing and choreographing throughout Europe. However all of that changed in 1933, when he met fellow steward for the arts, Lincoln Kirstein, who invited Balanchine to come to the United States to establish a school and company.
In 1934, Balanchine and Kirstein established the School of American Ballet, which remains open to this day as one of the leading ballet schools in the world. Throughout the years following, Balanchine created smaller companies including the American Ballet and the Ballet Society. It was not until 1948 that Balanchine found a permanent home with the establishment of New York City Ballet, where he served as artistic director until his death in 1983.
Over the course of his lifetime, Balanchine is credited with creating 465 ballets. Some of his most well known works being Apollo, Prodigal Son, Agon, and Jewels. What makes Balanchine such an icon in the ballet world was the style in which he choreographed. Defined as neoclassic ballet, it was Balanchine’s response to the romantic classicism that prevailed throughout European ballet. It was also Balanchine’s keen sense of music that set his ballet’s apart – something he learned early on as the son of a composer, but can be seen in his collaborations with composer Igor Stravinsky. Balanchine works also brought story-less or plot-less ballets to prominence, because he preferred to let “dance be the star of the show.”
Balanchine’s influence and passion are still celebrated today. The George Balanchine Trust helps to preserve and protect Balanchine’s creative works, including copyright protection and licensing.
See three ballets by The Father of American Ballet, George Balanchine on May 2-5, 2019, at Symphony Hall. Ib Anderson is one of a handful of artists worldwide entrusted by the Balanchine Trust to stage these masterpieces. We invite you to see the passion of Balanchine for yourself!