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Kirstein, Lincoln Edward (1907–1996) By Steichen, James

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM72-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 23 April 2024, from


Lincoln Kirstein was an American impresario, writer, and philanthropist, best known as the patron and champion of choreographer George Balanchine, whom he brought to the United States in 1933. Born in Rochester, New York, Kirstein was raised among the wealthy elite of Boston and graduated from Harvard University. A prolific writer, editor, collector, and fund-raiser, Kirstein was a tireless advocate on behalf of the arts generally, and ballet and dance specifically, in the United States. He was a founding editor of the literary quarterly Hound & Horn and helped to create the organization that became the Museum of Modern Art. With Balanchine, Kirstein founded a series dance companies in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as the School of American Ballet (SAB), culminating in the creation in 1948 of the New York City Ballet (NYCB). He served as Managing Director of the New York City Center, and was a member of the original planning committee for the Lincoln Center. Kirstein was instrumental in securing major philanthropic support from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations for SAB and NYCB (in addition to other American dance companies), and was a crucial institutional leader of both organizations throughout his life. An astute and wide-ranging collector of art, books, and dance memorabilia, Kirstein’s donations to the MoMA Dance Archives and the New York Public Library’s Jerome Robbins Dance Division constitute some of the most significant archival holdings in America on the history of ballet and dance.

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Steichen, James. Kirstein, Lincoln Edward (1907–1996). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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