Born January 22, 1904, in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine is widely regarded as ballet’s foremost contemporary choreographer. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, after accepting the invitation of young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-96), of whose many great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine’s behest, Kirstein was also prepared to support the formation of an American ballet academy, one to eventually rival the long-established schools of Europe.
This institution, and first product of the Balanchine/Kirstein collaboration, was the School of American Ballet, founded in 1934. In the years that followed, the two visionaries created several ballet companies, all of which eventually dissolved, though Balanchine continued to find other outlets for his choreography. Efforts to create a company temporarily ceased during World War II, but the two men’s unflagging devotion continued, and eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, the New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983.
Of Balanchine’s more than 400 dance works, some noted creations include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957), Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). Balanchine’s final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky’s Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982. He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway’s On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie.
A major artistic figure of the 20th century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance, having an inestimable influence upon the growth of dance in America. Although, at first, his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his works are now performed by classical ballet companies throughout the world.
Founded by Balanchine student, Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is a company steeped in the Balanchine style and repertoire.
Source. With edits made.