George Balanchine was born in the year 1904. He was invited to come over the United States of America by Lincoln Kirstein, in the year 1933, and subsequently, Balanchine arrived in America in the month of October 1933. One of the very first things that Balanchine is reputed to have done after his arrival in the United States, was to found the 'School of American Ballet', which opened in the year 1934, with a class of twenty five students. It must be stated here that although Balanchine and Kirstein made several attempts through many years to start a Company, they did not succeed in their endeavor, but the School of American Ballet, however, has endured and remains intact, to this day. This was the Scholl through which Balanchine was able to present his very first ballet to the entire world, in America, which was named the 'Serenade'. The performance was held in December 1934, at Avery Memorial Theatre, Hartford located in Connecticut, and its first professional performance was on March 1, 1935 at Adelphi Theatre in New York. (George Balanchine, 1904 to 1983: www.cmi.univ-mrs)
This performance has also endured over many years, and it must be remembered that although Balanchine was to abandon many ballets over the following years, this particular one remained his all time favorite, which he would never ever give up. This performance was in fact written specifically for students, and was therefore quite an easy one to execute. This becomes evident in the slow and easy steps that the students are to execute, and mush of the entire choreography relies on the use of arms rather than on footwork and steps. Balanchine did not have very many male dancers, and there are almost no real main parts for males; rather, the entire performance is female based, and he has numerous women dancers in his performance. Serenade is known for its exemplification of how much can actually be achieved with rather limited means; it is till today known as a remarkable and outstanding 'tour de force'. (George Balanchine, 1904 to 1983: www.cmi.univ-mrs)
It was in the year 1935 that there was hope that Balanchine would be able to form an alliance with the Metropolitan Opera, but this idea, however, did not work out suitably, and the entire alliance had to break up in the year 1938. Later, in the year 1941, Balanchine choreographed the 'Balustrade', which premiered in January 1941 at the Fifty First Street Theater, New York. This work has been described as being a virtual 'fantasy of contrasting moods', which was expressed in a series of mere movements, without a story. In fact, the entire performance was noted for its surrealistic appearance, complete with trees glowing with blood red ganglia. (Balustrade)
The performance was meant for the Original Ballet Russe, and Balanchine continued to work for the Ballet Russe until the year 1946. Most of the time during the 1930's and the 1940's, however, Balanchine concentrated most of his efforts on choreographing for various musical comedies, and he became known for his swiftness and shi readiness for hard work and effort, and this in turn made him an extremely popular person in Broadway at the time. It is said that Balanchine single-handedly managed to revolutionize the so called 'musical-comedy dancing', wherein he would use the actions of the dancers to carry the plot of the performance forward. (George Balanchine, 1904 to 1983: www.cmi.univ-mrs)
George Balanchine is even today regarded as one of the most famous and the foremost contemporary choreographers of is time, in the world of ballet, and it is said that since he was the son of a composer himself, he had a great advantage over others in the deep seated knowledge that he possessed about choreography and about composing his ballet performances in the United States of America. He was both a dancer and a musician, both of which helped him a great deal in his work, and it is said that Balanchine gave his very first performance as a dance at the age of ten in the 'Sleeping Beauty' where he played the role of Cupid, in the performance produced by the Mariinsky Theatre Ballet Company. It was in fact in the summer of the year 1924 that Balanchine left the then newly formed Soviet Union on a tour of Western Europe, upon the invitation that had been extended to his group by Sergei Diaghilev to give their auditions for his Ballet Russe which was based in Paris. Having impressed Diaghilev suitably, Balanchine was hired as a dance master by him to replace Bronislava Nijinska. (George Balanchine, 1904 to 1983: www.nycballet.com)
Soon afterwards, Balanchine reportedly injured his knee, an event which made his devote more time to choreography rather than to dancing. He therefore continued to serve as a dance master under Diaghilev, until Diaghilev died in the year 1929. Balanchine soon started to travel extensively all over Europe, and he even became involved in making movies with Lydia Lopokova, who was a former Diaghilev dancer, which became popular in Greta Britain of the time. He soon started to stage dance extravaganzas in Britain, especially for the Cochran Musical Theater Revues, and later, when he returned to Paris, Balanchine formed his very own dance company named "Les Ballets', in the year 1933. This was also the time when the Boson born dance and choreographer Lincoln Kirstein noticed the young and vibrant dancer- choreographer Balanchine, whose dream at that time was to successfully establish a dance company that would finally rival the dance schools of Europe, a feat as yet unaccomplished by anybody from the United States of America.
In fact, the dream that Kirstein harbored was to establish an American Dance School, or a Ballet Company, which would be unrivalled elsewhere in the world. It was when he saw Balanchine that he realized that his dreams may come true after all, and that he would invite the young dancer to come to the United States, for which Balanchine expressed great interest and desire. After his arrival, the 'Scholl of American Ballet' was established, and soon afterwards, performances were created and showcased on various stages across the United States. After the performances that Balanchine choreographed for this School, like for example, The Serenade, Balanchine and Kirstein together set up a touring company of dancers form their School, and named it the 'American Ballet'. It was with this group, with Balanchine serving as the Metropolitan Opera's resident dance master that several exquisite dance performances were put up by the students of the American Dance School, among them the better known being the 'Apollo', and the 'Le Baiser de la Fee', and the 'Card Game'. These efforts would stand Balanchine in good stead at the time when he would need it in his later years, when he would be invited to direct the three Stravinsky Festivals. (George Balanchine, 1904 to 1983: www.nycballet.com)
In the year 1938, Balanchine's partnership with the Metropolitan Opera became dissolved, and soon thereafter, the great dance master started to devote all his time to teaching at the School, and also to working in musical theatre and also in films. In the year 1941, Kirstein and Balanchine together assembled the 'American Ballet Caravan', and the beautiful 'Concerto Barocco' and the Ballet Imperial', 'Raymonda', and 'La Somnambula' were all created by Balanchine at this time. In sum total, it is said that Balanchine manage to create more than four hundred and sixty five exquisite dance performances during his lifetime, and some of the most famous of these are: Firebird, made in 1949, Bouree Fantasque, in 1949, the Nutcracker, made in the year 1954, along with other works such as Ivesiana and Western Symphony. Agon was made in 1957, and the Seven Deadly Sins, Stars and Stripes, and Episodes came at a later date. A Midsummer Night's Dream was choreographed in the year 1962, and Don Quixote in 1965.
Soon after that was Jewels, Balanchine's first ever ballet performance without a real plot, and then came Who Cares in 1970. Balanchine also created quite a few musical comedies, and also contributed to movies, and he has always been known for his neo-classical style, and for his reactions to the Romantic anti-Classicism of his time. When he choreographed, Balanchine would make sure that there was a de-emphasis on plot, and he believed that it was in this way that 'dance' could become the real star of the entire show, and not the plot or settings, and so on. In 1972, the U.S. News and World Report gave an in-depth analysis of this great man's work, and stated that Balanchine was an individual, who had successfully managed to fuse and combine modern concepts and ideas with old traditional ones, which was used in Classical Ballet. He had received his primary training and instruction in dance in Russia before he arrived in the United States. (George Balanchine, 1904 to 1983: www.nycballet.com)
And when he saw the free flowing dance forms that…