GEORGE BALANCHINE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: George Balanchine                                                                                         
Born: 22 January 1904                                                                                           
Died: 30 April 1983                                                                                             
George Balanchine (January 22, 1904 – April 30, 1983), was a Georgian ballet choreographer. He is one of       
the 20th century's foremost choreographers, and one of the founders of American                                 
ballet. His work formed a bridge between classical and modern ballet.                                           
Balanchine was born Giorgi Melitonis dze Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia to Georgian parents. His     
father, noted Georgian composer Meliton Balanchivadze (1862–1937), was one of                                 
the founders of the Georgian Opera. George's brother, Andria Balanchivadze (1906–1992),                       
became a well-known Georgian composer.                                                                           
As a child, Balanchine was not particularly interested in ballet. However, his                                   
mother possessed a deep love for the art and had the young Giorgi audition with                                 
his sister, who shared her mother's passion for ballet. Since his family was                                     
mostly composers and soldiers, it was said that Balanchine could always follow                                   
family tradition and enroll in the military if it turned out he wasn't talented                                 
at dancing.                                                                                                     
In 1913 at the age of nine, Balanchine was enrolled in the Imperial Ballet                                       
School, principal school of the Imperial Ballet, where he studied under Pavel                                   
Gerdt and Samuil Andrianov (Pavel's son-in-law).                                                                 
With the victory of the Bolsheviks in the revolution, the school was disbanded                                   
as an offensive symbol of the Tsarist regime. To survive the privation and                                       
Martial Law of this period, Balanchine played the piano—for food, not for money—at                           
cabarets and silent movie theatres. Eventually the Imperial Ballet School                                       
reopened amid greatly reduced monetary funds. After graduating with honours in                                   
1921, Balanchine enrolled in the Petrograd Conservatory in tandem with his corps                                 
de ballet duties at the The State Academic Theatre for Opera and Ballet (formerly                               
the State Theater of Opera and Ballet). In 1922 when Balanchine was eighteen, he                                 
married Tamara Geva, a fifteen year old dancer. His studies at the conservatory                                 
included advanced piano, music theory, counterpoint, harmony, and composition.                                   
Balanchine graduated from the conservatory in 1923, and he was a member of the                                   
corps until 1924.                                                                                               
While still in his teens, Balanchine choreographed his first work, a pas de deux                                 
called La Nuit (1920, music by Anton Rubinstein). This was followed by another                                   
duet, Enigma, danced in bare feet. In 1923, with fellow dancers, he formed a                                     
small ensemble, the Young Ballet. The choreography proved too experimental for                                   
the new authorities, who strongly encouraged the group to disband.                                               
Balanchine, Tamara Geva, Alexandra Danilova, and Nicholas Efimov were granted                                   
permission to tour Western Europe in 1924. While performing in London, England,                                 
Serge Diaghilev asked the group to join his Ballets Russes, prompting the four                                   
to defect.