Balanchine, George (1904–1983) By Reynolds, Nancy
George Balanchine (Georgii Melitonovich Balanchivadze), arguably the greatest ballet choreographer of the twentieth century, was at once both modernist and traditionalist. Unlike many radical innovators, in charting new ground he did not reject the past. Virtually all of his major works make reference, even if obliquely, to the classical ballet technique in which he was trained. Although born in Russia and active in Europe in the early part of his career, it was in America that he made his greatest impact, directing the New York City Ballet, which he co-founded with Lincoln Kirstein, from its inception in 1948 until his death in 1983. During this time, the company grew from modest beginnings to become one of the most important ballet troupes in the world. Balanchine is credited with creating a particularly American style of classical dance, one that is characterized by speed, precision, energy, daring, and a rough grace more associated with athletes than with sylphs. His more than 400 dance works include Apollo (1928), Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de cristal (later renamed Symphony in C) (1948), 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).