George Balanchine - The Shakespeare of Dancing
30 January, 2015
George Balanchine - The Shakespeare of Dancing
“He was Georgian and fiercely proud of it. Impeccable clothing, lots of delicious food and drink, five wives and countless love affairs.”

On January 22, the New York City Ballet Company celebrated the 111th anniversary of George Balanchine, the Georgian choreographer, who is frequently called “Father of American Ballet.” On that very day, the company opened its six-week season at the David H. Koch Theater with three of his ultimate classics: “Serenade,” “Agon” and “Symphony in C.” Also, The New
York Times paid tribute to one of the 20th century’s most prolific dancers by dedicating the front page to him.


“It took me 30 years to raise New York.”

It is hard to write anything new about great ballet-master George Balanchine or praise him in a way he wasn’t praised before. This is the reason why we think many would rather be interested in how his work was received by the modern world. Nona Lomidze, a Georgian living in Vienna who dedicated 20 years of her life to researching his biography, helped us with this task, providing us with fragments from her book Balanchine, presented below:
The New York Times, 1977:
“Some people know him as the Shakespeare of dancing, but to his friends he was just “Mr.B.” The Vigor and the vitality of this genial choreographer of Georgian origin was in perfect fusion with his modesty and sense of humor. Balanchine almost single-handedly brought ballet over to the United States and played an enormous role in making New York the capital of dancing. To our question about why had dancing become so popular in New York, he replied, “I don’t know, people probably got used to it. It took me 30 years to raise New York.”
Andrea Balanchivadze, George Balanchine’s brother:
“Under Kennedy, the Rockefellers gave 12 million dollars to the development of American ballet. Three million were intended for collateral development and nine were given to Giorgi directly. It was decided that a theater had to be built. The enormous venue, designed to fit 2,000 people, was unveiled in November 1964. Now Giorgi had his own theater, named New York State Theater.”
We feel that a few words about Balanchine’s character and spouses are also necessary. Various publications described him in various ways. Extracts from some of them are presented below.geotv.ge
New York Post:
“Balanchine was frequently taken for a Russian. In reality, however, he was Georgian and fiercely proud of it. Impeccable clothing, lots of delicious food and drink, five wives and countless love affairs.”
The New York Times:
“Balanchine was very temperamental and intense in his daily life. He frequently began working on his new performances up to three weeks before he was supposed to. He cared little for money, spending them freely. He was married five times, only four of them official. All five of his wives were extremely beautiful women, all of them turned into famous ballerinas by his hand.”
George Balanchine Way is the name of a small street located between Columbus Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan. After George’s death, the name of the eponymous street was subject to long deliberation. George Balanchine Street? No. George Balanchine Turn? No. It was decided to go with George Balanchine Way, since this was the way George took every day from his house to New York State Theater, where American ballet was born.
“Without him, classical American ballet would not exist, just like Broadway wouldn’t. Without him, American choreography would have taken at least a century more to fully develop,” stated Karin von Aroldingen, one of the ballerinas from Balanchine’s group.

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Upon getting acquainted with Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, Balanchine decided to create a ballet for… circus elephants. According to an old joke, when Balanchine told Stravinsky he was staging a ballet for elephants, Stravinsky asked him whether he needed old or young ones. But George made good on his promise, and polka-dancing elephants became wildly popular in the circuses.









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Balanchine used to hang a piece of sausage for his pet cat to reach. Whenever the cat jumped to grab it, he observed the movement and incorporated it into ballet. According to art experts, this is how the seed of ballet’s trademark natural but precise movements was planted. In 1927, he staged a ballet named “La Chatte” (The Cat), which is still performed worldwide, Tbilisi included.


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