George Balanchine Essay Research Paper George Balanchine

George Balanchine Essay, Research Paper

George Balanchine, or originally Georgy Melitonovich Balanchivadze, a

Russian-born choreographer, is recognized as one of the foremost

choreographers in the history of ballet.

George was among a generation of dancers who spent the years of World

War 1 at the Imperial school of ballet at the Mariinsky theatre. George was the

son of a composer, and he also studied music from 1921 to 1924 at the

Petrograd Conservatory in St. Petersburg.

As a student Balanchine had already tried choreography. His first work in

1920 was a short piece danced to Anton Rubinsteins Nuit . He also

choreographed works for the evenings of experimental ballet performed by

himself and his colleagues at the State school of Ballet. These early works

were criticized as too avant – guarde.

In 1924 Balanchine was one of four dancers who left the newly formed Soviet

Union for a tour of Western Europe. All four dancers were invited by

Impresario Sergei Diaghitev to audition for his Ballet Russes in Paris and were

accepted into the company.

Diaghitev also had his eye on Balanchine as a choreographer aswell, and after

watching him stage a new version of the company s Stravinsky ballet, Le

chant de Rossignol , Diaghitev hired him as ballet master to replace

Bronislava Nijinska.

Shortly after this, Balanchine suffered a knee injury which limited his dancing

and made him commit to full – time choreography. Balanchine served as a

ballet master with the Ballet Russes until the company was dissolved following

Diaghitev s death in 1929.

Balanchine returned to Paris in 1933 and formed his own company, Les


Boston – born dance Connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein had a dream to establish an

American school of ballet that would equal and even rival the established

European schools.

Balanchine was persuaded to move to America and he became the

choreographer for the School of American Ballet, which was founded in 1934.

The school remains in operation today , training students for the New York

City Ballet and companies throughout the United States and the world.

The first ballet Balanchine choreographed in America was Serenade , to

music by Tschaikovsky. It was created as a workshop for students and had its

world premiere outdoors on an estate in New York.

In 1935, Kirstein and Balanchine set up a touring company of dancers from the

school and called it The American Ballet. That same year, the Metropolitan

Opera invited the company to become its resident ballet, with Balanchine as

the ballet Master. Tight funding permitted Balanchine to mount only two

completely dance – oriented works while with the Metropolitan Opera, a

dance-drama version of Glucks Orfeo and Eurydice and an all-Stravinsky

program, featuring a revival of one of Balanchine s first ballets. Apollo .

Despite the popular and critical success , Balanchine and the Metropolitan

Opera separated in early 1938.

Balanchine spent his next years teaching at the school and working in musical

theatre and films. In 1941, he and Kirstein assembled the American Ballet

Caravan, which toured South America with Balanchines new creations

Concerto Barocco and Ballet Imperial . From 1944 to 1946, Balanchine was

called in as artistic director to help revitalize the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo.

In 1946, Balanchine and Kirstein collaborated again to form Ballet Society, a

company which introduced New York subscription – only audiences to such

new Balanchine works as The Four Temperaments and Stravinsky s

Renard and Orpheus .

Morton Baum, chairman of the City Center finance committee, saw Ballet

Society during one of these performances. He was so highly impressed that

he initiated negotiations that led to the company being invited to join the City

Center municipal complex ( of which at the time the New York City Drama

Company and the New York City Opera were a part of) as the New York City

Ballet .

October 11 1948, the New York City Ballet was born, dancing a program

consisting of Concerto Barocco , Orpheus , and Symphony in c .

From that time until his death, Balanchine served as artictc direcor for the New

York City Ballet, choreographing the majority of the productions the company

has introduced since its inception. Among them were:

Firebird -1949

Bouree Fantasque – 1949

Lavalse -1951

The Nutcracker – 1954

Ivesiana -1954

Western Symphony -1954

Allegro Brillante -1956

Agon – 1957

The Seven Deadly Sins -1958

Stars and Stripes – 1958

Episodes -1959

Balanchine s style has been described as neoclassic, as reaction to the

Romantic anti-classicim that was the prevailing style in Russian and European

ballet when he had began to dance. As a choreographer, Balanchine generally

de-emphasized plot in his ballets, preferring to let dance be the star of the

show , as he told an interviewer.

Balanchine himself wrote:

We must first realize that dancing is an absolutely independent art, not merely

a secondary accompanying one. I believe that it is one of the great arts. Like

the music of great musicians, it can be enjoyed and understood without any

verbal introduction or explanation…… The important thing in ballet is that

movement itself, as it is sound which is important in a symphony. A ballet may

contain a story, but visual spectacle, not the story is the essential element.

The choreographer and the dancer must remember that they reach the

audience throught the eye – and the audience , in its turn, must train itself to

see what is performed upon the stage. It is the illusion created which

convinces the audience, much as it is with the work of a magician. If the

illusion fails, the ballet fails, no matter how well a program note tells the

audience that it has succeeded .


Msn Encarta

School of American Ballet. Biography of George Balanchine

Robin May – The World of Ballet Great Britain, 1981


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