George Balachine’s Contribution To Contemporary Ballet
Ballet is a genre of art which originated in the 15th century in Italy and then developed in France, England, Russia and other countries. It has a long history and this types of dance is usually divided into several forms: classical ballet and neoclassical ballet. Nowadays it is possible to speak about contemporary ballet influenced by its classical form with traditional ballet shoes and tutu dresses and modern dance with a great variety of innovative techniques. Today there are a lot of contemporary ballet schools and companies such as Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and The Forsythe Company. There are a lot of contemporary ballet choreographers as well. However, the founder of contemporary ballet is considered to be a famous choreographer of the 20th century George Balachine, born in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
George Balachine’s father was a well-known Georgian composer who influenced his son’s interest in ballet a lot. George Balanchine managed to create modern ballet techniques due to his thorough knowledge of classical ballet forms. He trained his dancers in classical ballet shoes in an experimental manner and wasn’t always understood by his contemporaries. He contributed a lot to the development of ballet in Russia, France, England and the United States.
One of George Balachine’s main projects was to found his own ballet school. His dream came true when he established the School of American Ballet three months after he arrived in the United States in 1934. His students wearing ballet shoes performed Serenade the same year. The choreographer also worked for musical theatre in collaboration with such famous composers as Richard Rodgers and Vernon Duke.
In 1935 George Balachine managed to organise the first professional ballet company in the United States known as the American Ballet. However, in 1938 Balachine decided to move the company to Hollywood because he had been allowed to perform only two ballets. In Hollywood the company was renamed into the American Ballet Caravan and George Balachine together with his talented dancers in tutu dresses and ballet shoes made tours to North and South America. Later, George Balachine formed several other ballet companies such as the Ballet Society and the New York City Ballet. He was a talented choreographer and his dancers staged such famous performances as Jeu De Cartes, On Your Toes, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, Encounter, Theme And Variations, The Four Temperaments and others.
Among his most remarkable students it is possible to name Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tamara Toumanova, Suzanne Farrel and others. He fell in love with his ballerinas several times and they inspired him to create brilliant works highly appreciated by ballet admirers and his colleagues. He was married four times to famous ballerinas Tamara Geva, Vera Zorina, Maria Tallchief and Tanaquil LeClercq. It is possible to say that a ballerina in a tutu dress and ballet shoes was the muse of George Balachine.
During his fruitful life George Balachine managed to create more than 400 works. He was famous in many countries of the world. It is also important to mention that George Balachine received the Kennedy Center Honours Award the first year the award was established.