George Balanchine

1904 – 1983

The George Balanchine Trust

 

“I don’t have a past. I have a continuous present. The past is part of the present, just as the future is. We exist in time.”

 

22 January 1904
Georgi Melitonovich Balanchivadze, son of a composer, is born in St. Petersburg, Russia.

1913
Balanchivadze enrolls in the Imperial Theater Ballet School in St. Petersburg.

1915
Balanchivadze performs on stage for the first time, playing a cupid in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theater, an experience he later credits with inspiring him to pursue a career in ballet.

1920
Balanchivadze creates his first choreography for student ballet concerts.  He begins three years of piano and music theory at the Petrograd Conservatory of Music.

1921
Balanchivadze becomes a dancer at the State Theater of Opera and Ballet (formerly known as the Mariinsky Theater).

1922
Balanchivadze choreographs for the School’s graduation performances, dances at the State Theater, and organizes the Young Ballet, a small experimental company.

1924
Balanchivadze joins a touring troupe, Principal Dancers of the Soviet State Ballet.  While performing in Germany, the troupe decides not to return to the Soviet Union.  After an engagement in London, he travels to Paris to audition for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.  Diaghilev hires him and changes Balanchivadze’s name to George Balanchine.

1925 – 1927
Balanchine choreographs ballets for the Opera de Monte-Carlo and the Ballets Russes including L’enfant et les Sortilèges, a reworking of Léonide Massine’s Le Chant du Rossignol, Barabau, La Pastorale, Jack in the Box, The Triumph of Neptune, and La Chatte.

1928
Apollon Musagète (later named Apollo) with music by Igor Stravinsky

1929
Prodigal Son with music by Sergei Prokofiev
Diaghilev dies in Venice.  The Ballets Russes disbands.

1930 – 1933
Balanchine choreographs for companies in Paris, London, Copenhagen, and Monte Carlo, including the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo and Les Ballets 1933.

1933
Lincoln Kirstein meets Balanchine in London and invites him to the United States to establish an American ballet school and company.
Balanchine arrives in New York on October 17.

1934
Kirstein and Balanchine, with the financial support of Edward M. M. Warburg, establish the School of American Ballet, which opens on January 2.  Balanchine choreographs Serenade, with music by Tschaikovsky, his first ballet created in America, which premieres at the Warburg estate.

1935
Balanchine and Kirstein establish the American Ballet, a professional company, with dancers from the School of American Ballet.

Balanchine is hired as ballet master of the Metropolitan Opera, and the American Ballet becomes its resident ballet company.

1936
Balanchine begins choreographing for Broadway productions, including Ziegfield Follies: 1936 Edition and On Your Toes.  Some of his dancers also appear with Ballet Caravan, a small touring company founded by Kirstein.

1937
Balanchine stages his first Stravinsky Festival, presented by the American Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House and continues his work on Broadway musicals.

1938
Balanchine leaves the Metropolitan Opera and takes some of his dancers to Hollywood, where he choreographs The Goldwyn Follies.

1939
Balanchine becomes a United States citizen.  He directs the dances for the Hollywood film of On Your Toes.

1941
Balanchine and Kirstein establish the American Ballet Caravan.  The Company embarks upon a five-month goodwill tour of South America, which disbands at the tour’s end.  Balanchine choreographs Ballet Imperial (later renamed Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2) and Concerto Barocco.

1944 – 1946
Balanchine is hired as resident choreographer of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, for which he creates Danses Concertantes, Raymonda, and Night Shadow (later called La Sonnambula).

1946
Balanchine and Kirstein establish Ballet Society.  Balanchine choreographs The Four Temperaments to a commissioned score by Paul Hindemith in 1940 for the company’s first performance.

1947
Balanchine works for six months as ballet master of the Paris Opera Ballet, for which he choreographs Le Palais de Cristal (renamed Symphony in C in 1948 for its American premiere).  He choreographs Theme and Variations for Ballet Theatre.

1948
Balanchine choreographs Orpheus to a commissioned score by Stravinsky. Following the success of the ballet, Morton Baum, of the New York City Center of Music and Drama, invites Balanchine’s troupe to join the organization as its resident ballet company, renamed the New York City Ballet.  The first performance took place on October 11.

The George Balanchine Trust - Orpheus

 

“Dance is a continuation. You cannot predict the signs of its evolution.”

 

1949
Firebird

1951
La Valse
Swan Lake

1952
Scotch Symphony

1954
The Nutcracker (Balanchine’s first full-length work for New York City Ballet)
Western Symphony
Ivesiana

1956
Allegro Brillante

1957
Square Dance
Agon

1958
Stars and Stripes

1960
Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
Liebeslieder Walzer

1962
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The New York City Ballet tours the Soviet Union.  It is Balanchine’s first visit to his native country since he emigrated 38 years earlier.

1964
New York City Ballet moves into its new home, The New York State Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which was designed by Philip Johnson in consultation with Balanchine and Kirstein.

1965
Don Quixote, in which Balanchine plays the title role.

1967
Jewels

1972
Balanchine stages his second Stravinsky Festival, for which he choreographs eight new ballets, including Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements, and Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée.

1974
Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir
Coppélia

1975
Balanchine stages a three-week festival honoring Ravel, for which he choreographs Tzigane, Le Tombeau de Couperin, and Sonatine.

1976
Chaconne
Union Jack

1977
Vienna Waltzes

1978
Ballo della Regina
Kammermusic No. 2

1980
Ballade
Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze”
Walpurgisnacht Ballet

1981
Balanchine stages a Tschaikovsky Festival at the New York City Ballet, for which he choreographs a new version of Mozartiana, which he originally created for Les Ballets 1933.

1982
Balanchine directs the Stravinsky Centennial Celebration, during which 25 ballets set to Stravinsky’s music are performed by the New York City Ballet.

1983
George Balanchine dies in New York City on April 30.