Chronology: Life and Works

This schematic chronology provides a comprehensive overview and context for Balanchine’s choreography year by year, also noting important events related to his creative activities. Stages in his development are organized by date and geographical location.

Note: Bracketed numbers refer to Catalogue entries.

1904-1924 Russia
Georgi Melitonovich Balanchivadze, son of a composer, is born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 22.
Enters ballet section of Imperial Theater School, St. Petersburg, as a day student.
Admitted to the Imperial Theater School as a boarding student.
Performs on stage for the first time, playing a cupid in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty, an experience he later credits with inspiring him to pursue a career in ballet; dances in school performances and acts in plays.
The Imperial Theater School and the Maryinsky Theater are closed in the wake of the Russian Revolution. Balanchivadze finds work as a messenger, saddler’s assistant, and pianist for a silent-film theater.
After more than a year’s interruption, resumes studies at the renamed Petrograd Theater (Ballet) School. ― Appears in repertory at the renamed State Maryinsky Theater of Opera and Ballet; performs with fellow students for workers’ clubs, army units and educational institutions.
ca. 1919
Creates first choreography, for Ballet School concerts [1-3]. ― Embarks on three years of study at the Petrograd Conservatory of Music, directed by Alexander Glazounov, focusing on piano and music theory. ― Begins to compose music.— Stravinsky’s first ballets, Firebird and Petrouchka, are presented at the State Maryinsky Theater.
Graduates with honors from Petrograd Theater (Ballet) School [4-5]. ―Enters ballet company of the renamed Petrograd State (Academic) Theater of. Opera and Ballet. ― Sees and is influenced by performances of Kasyan Goleizovsky’s Chamber Ballet. ― Obtains score of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella [35].
Choreographs works for Petrograd Theater School graduation performances and continues to perform with State Theater of Opera and Ballet [6-13]. ― With Pëtr Gusev, Vladimir Dimitriev, Yuri Slonimsky, and others, organizes a small experimental company called Young Ballet, performing in Petrograd, nearby resorts and Moscow. ― Fëdor Lopukhov, artistic director of State Theater of Opera and Ballet, invites Young Ballet to participate in his independent production, Dance Symphony.
Creates works for official debut of Young Ballet. ― Performs as pianist and dancer in cabarets, cinemas and at Svobodny Theater, and works with FEKS company (The Fabricators of Eccentricities, Inc.). ― Is named a ballet master of Maly Opera Theater in Petrograd. [14-29]
Choreographs works for what will be final performances of Young Ballet [30-35]. — Joins troupe of dancers, singers and musicians, directed by Vladimir Dimitriev and including dancers Alexandra Danilova, Tamara Geva, and Nicholas Efimov, to tour Germany. — Departs from Russia. — With the three other dancers, calling themselves Principal Dancers of the Russian State Ballet, performs in Berlin and tours Rhineland towns. — At end of tour, rejecting theater administration’s order to return to Soviet Union, goes to London. —Performs at popular music hall; seen by Anton Dolin and Boris Kochno. — In Paris, group auditions for Serge Diaghilev. — Diaghilev engages dancers, who join his Ballets Russes in London, and changes name Georgi Balanchivadze to Georges Balanchine.
1925-1929 Europe, with Serge Diaghilev
Goes to Monte Carlo, where Ballets Russes is based. ― Assigned by Diaghilev to choreograph ballets for productions of Opéra de Monte-Carlo [38-42, 44-47, 49], which employs dancers from Ballets Russes between touring seasons. ― For Opéra, choreographs world premiere of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Ravel) [48]. ― As first assignment for Ballets Russes, revises Léonide Massine’s choreography of Le Chant du Rossignol (Stravinsky) [52], given premiere in Paris. ― For London engagement choreographs Barabau (Rieti) [53], his first original ballet for Diaghilev. ― While creating new works, rehearses Ballets Russes repertory and dances with company, which performs in Barcelona, London, Paris, Antwerp, and Berlin.
Choreographs for Opéra de Monte-Carlo [54-60] and for Diaghilev creates La Pastorale (Auric) [62] and Jack in the Box (Satie) [63]. ― Goes to Rome to work with Lord Berners on The Triumph of Neptune [64] which has its premiere in London. ― Revises divertissement from The Sleeping Beauty (Tchaikovsky) [65] among many changes he makes to repertory pieces of Ballets Russes as maître de ballet. ― Company presents seasons in Paris and London and tours to Berlin, Ostend, and Le Touquet.
Provides choreography for productions of Opéra de Monte-Carlo [66-71] and for Ballets Russes choreographs La Chatte (Sauguet) [72]. ― For Nikita Balieff’s traveling Russian cabaret, Le Chauve-Souris, choreographs Grotesque Espagnol (Albéniz) and Sarcasm (Prokofiev) [73,74], his first works to be seen in America. ― Ballets Russes gives seasons in Paris and London, and tours in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Spain.
Creates dances for Opéra de Monte-Carlo productions [76-82]. ― For South American tour of Anna Pavlova’s company, choreographs Aleko (Rachmaninoff) and Polka Grotesque (music unknown) [83]. ― For Ballets Russes, creates Apollon Musagète [84], his first original ballet to Stravinsky’s music, which receives premiere in Paris. ―Creates more numbers for Balieff’s Chauve-Souris [85.1-85.3] ― First performance of The Gods Go A-Begging (Handel) [85] given in London. ― Ballets Russes gives seasons in Paris and London, tours Great Britain, and performs in Antwerp, Liège, Brussels, Lausanne, and Ostend.
Sets ballets for Opéra de Monte-Carlo [86-90, 92] and for Diaghilev choreographs Le Bal (Rieti) [93]. ― Ballets Russes performs in Berlin, Cologne, and London. ― For Ballets Russes premiere in Paris, creates Le Fils Prodigue (Prokofiev), Diaghilev’s last new work. ― Performs with Ballets Russes in Ostend and Vichy. ― Choreographs dance sequence to music by Moussorgsky for Dark Red Roses [97], one of the first feature-length talking movies made in England. ― Diaghilev dies in Venice August 19, and his Ballets Russes ceases to exist. ― For small group formed by Dolin in London, Balanchine choreographs Pas de Deux (da Costa) [95]. ― In Paris, at invitation of Jacques Rouché, director of Paris Opéra, conceives and begins to choreograph ballet to Les Créatures de Prométhée (Beethoven) [96] which, due to illness, is completed by Serge Lifar.
1930-1933 Europe after Diaghilev
In Paris, creates Aubade (Poulenc) [98] for company formed by Vera Nemtchinova. — In London, choreographs several numbers (to music by Berners, Sauguet, and others) for Charles B. Cochran’s 1930 Revue [99]. — In Copenhagen, as guest ballet master of Royal Danish Ballet for five months, stages and rechoreographs six ballets by Fokine and Massine [101-106] and presents two all-Balanchine programs.
Returning to London, gathers small company sometimes billed as ’16 Delightful Balanchine Girls 16′ to perform numbers he creates for Sir Oswald Stoll’s Variety Shows [107], to music by Liszt, Glinka, Mendelssohn, Rimsky-Korsakov, and others. ― At same time, stages dances for Charles B.Cochran’s 1931 Revue [108]. ― In Paris makes ballets for production of Offenbach’s comic opera Orphée aux Enfers [109] with group of dancers called Les Ballets Russes de Georges Balanchine. René Blum invites Balanchine to become ballet master of a new company to be based in Monte Carlo.
While organizing and rehearsing first season of Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo, choreographs ballets for eighteen opera productions of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo [111-128]. ― For the new company creates four ballets, Cotillon (Chabrier), La Concurrence (Auric), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Richard Strauss), and Suite de Danses (Glinka) [129-132]. ― Disagreements over policy with Blum’s partner, Colonel Vasily de Basîl, lead to his departure from company.
In Paris, forms Les Ballets 1933 with Boris Kochno. ― For brief seasons in Paris and London, creates completely new repertory of six works [134-139]; four are to be included in repertories of his future companies: Mozartiana (his first major work to Tchaikovsky), Les Songes (Milhaud), Les Sept Péchés Capitaux (The Seven Deadly Sins, Weill/Brecht), and L’Errante (Schubert). ― The others are Fastes (Sauguet) and Les Valses de Beethoven. ― Les Ballets 1933 disbands. ― Lincoln Kirstein meets Balanchine in London and invites him to the United States to establish a ballet school and company. ― He accepts, canceling second engagement with Royal Danish Ballet. ― On October 17, Balanchine arrives in New York with Dimitriev.
1934-1945 The United States and early companies
School of American Ballet opens at 637 Madison Avenue in New York City on January 2, with Balanchine, Dimitriev, and Kirstein as officers; Balanchine, Pierre Vladimiroff, and Dorothie Littlefield as faculty; and Edward M. M. Warburg as first patron. ― In March, Balanchine begins choreographing Serenade (Tchaikovsky) for students, who first perform it with stagings of Mozartiana and Dreams (a revision of Les Songes) at Woodland, the Warburg estate in Hartsdale, New York. ― In Hartford, Connecticut, non-professional Producing Company of the School of American Ballet, predecessor of American Ballet, presents programs that include Mozartiana and three new ballets: Serenade, Alma Mater (Swift), and Transcendence (Liszt). Balanchine, Kirstein, and Warburg establish American Ballet, with dancers from the school.
In New York City, American Ballet has first professional season with official premieres of Serenade, Alma Mater, Reminiscence (Godard), and Transcendence and American premieres of Errante and Dreams [141-146]. — After performances in Philadelphia, New York, and White Plains, company begins projected United States tour in Greenwich, Connecticut, which ends one week later in Scranton, Pennsylvania. — Edward Johnson, general manager of Metropolitan Opera, engages Balanchine as ballet master and American Ballet (to be called American Ballet Ensemble) as resident ballet company. — Choreographs ballets for seven opera productions [150-156] and, in first of several programs combining independent ballets with opera, presents Reminiscence with Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.
For Metropolitan Opera season, sets ballets for seven operas [158-161, 163, 167, 168]. — With William Dollar, choreographs Concerto [165]; creates the ballet The Bat (Johann Strauss the Younger) [169]. Directs and choreographs the opera Orpheus and Eurydice (Gluck) [170] in a production designed by Pavel Tchelitchew that is danced throughout. — Stages first ballets for a Broadway musical, six pieces for Ziegfeld Follies: 1936 Edition (Duke) [162]. — Creates Serenata: Magic (Mozart) [164] for Hartford Festival. For Broadway, choreographs Slaughter on Tenth Avenue and other ballets to be included in the musical On Your Toes (Rodgers and Hart) [166]. Some of his dancers also appear with Ballet Caravan, a small touring company founded by Kirstein, that disbands in 1940.
Choreographs opera ballets [171, 173, 174, 179] and stages and choreographs Le Coq d’Or (Rimsky-Korsakov)[172] for Metropolitan Opera. ― Prepares his first Stravinsky Festival, presented at Metropolitan Opera House for two evenings by American Ballet; revives Apollon Musagète for its first performance in America, createsThe Card Party, his and Kirstein’s first commission to Stravinsky, and choreographs Le Baiser de la Fée [176-178] (see FESTIVALS DIRECTED BY BALANCHINE). ― Sets dances for Babes in Arms (Rodgers and Hart) [175]. ― Engaged by Samuel Goldwyn for first Hollywood assignment, to create dances with members of American Ballet for Goldwyn Follies (Gershwin; released 1938) [185]. ― Choreographs opera ballets for winter/spring Metropolitan Opera season [179-181].
Metropolitan Opera terminates engagement of American Ballet after spring season. — For Broadway, choreographs I Married an Angel and The Boys from Syracuse (Rodgers and Hart), and Great Lady (Loewe) [182-184]. — Plans for Balanchine company to be sponsored by Broadway producers Dwight Deere Wiman and J. H. Del Bondio lead to rehearsals but not to production.
Balanchine becomes a United States citizen. — In Hollywood, directs dances for film version of On Your Toes [186], and later directs dances for film I Was an Adventuress (released 1940) [191].
In New York, stages Le Baiser de la Fée, Poker Game (The Card Party), and Serenade for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. ― Choreographs dances for Broadway musicals Keep Off The Grass (McHugh) and Louisiana Purchase (Berlin) and stages entire production of Cabin in the Sky (Duke), collaborating with Katherine Dunham [187, 188, 190]. ― School of American Ballet is incorporated as nonprofit institution with Kirstein as President and Director and Balanchine as Chairman of Faculty.
For de Basil’s company, Original Ballet Russe, choreographs Balustrade (to Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto) [192], first ballet created in America for company not his own. ― With Kirstein, establishes American Ballet Caravan, formed with dancers from American Ballet, Ballet Caravan (a chamber company directed by Kirstein, 1936-40), and School of American Ballet, for five-month good-will tour of Latin America arranged by Nelson A. Rockefeller, Coordinaror of Inter-American Affairs. ― Choreographs new ballets for tour: Ballet Imperial (Tchaikovsky) and Concerto Barocco (Bach; first conceived for School of American Ballet students); Divertimento (Rossini―Britten) and Fantasia Brasileira (Mignone) are choreographed in South America during tour [194-196, 200]. ― Also stages Serenata (Serenade), Alma Errante (Errante), Apolo Musageta (Apollon Musagète), and El Murciélago (The Bat) [193, 197-199]. ― Tour opens in Rio de Janeiro and continues in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. ― Company is disbanded at end of engagement. ― In New York, stages dances for Broadway musical The Lady Comes Across (Duke/Latouche) [201].
Choreographs The Ballet of the Elephants [202] to Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, written at Balanchine’s request for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Madison Square Garden, with cast of fifty elephants and fifty women. ― In Argentina as guest director of ballet of Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, creates choreography for opera Mârouf (Rabaud) [204], stages Apollon Musagète in new production designed by Tchelitchew, and choreographs Concierto de Mozart [205]. ― In New York, for recently formed New Opera Company, choreographs Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss the Younger) [206], choreographs for opera productions[207-211], and stages Ballet Imperial using members of former American Ballet Caravan. ― In Hollywood choreographs Johnny Mercer’s ‘That Old Black Magic’ for film Star Spangled Rhythm [213].
In first association with Ballet Theatre, founded in 1939, stages Apollo and The Wanderer (Errante) and assists David Lichine in revising Fokine’s last ballet, Helen of Troy (Offenbach) [214]. ― With Leopold Stokowski and Robert Edmond Jones collaborates on production of The Crucifixion of Christ [215], a modern miracle play set to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, using students from School of American Ballet. ― Stages dances for New Opera Company production of The Merry Widow (Lehár) [216] and for Broadway musical comedy What’s Up (Loewe) [217]. ― Plans resident company in New York to give performances on Sunday evenings, but project does not materialize. ― Stages Concerto Barocco for American Concert Ballet, company formed by members of former American Ballet Caravan.
Choreographs ballet sequences for Broadway musical comedy Dream with Music (Warnick) [218]. — In Los Angeles, creates dances for operetta Song of Norway [219] to music by Edvard Grieg using dancers from Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. — Begins two-year association with that company as resident choreographer; first original work for company is Danses Concertantes (Stravinsky) [220]; stages new version of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Richard Strauss) [221]. — To honor his twenty-fifth year as choreographer, Chicago Public Library mounts exhibition. — Choreographs Waltz Academy (Rieti) [222], his first original work for Ballet Theatre.
Devises movement sequences for role of Ariel in Broadway production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest [224] directed by Margaret Webster. ― Dance Index, the magazine founded by Kirstein in 1942, devotes February-March issue to a study of Balanchine’s work including his own ‘Notes on Choreography.’ ― Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo celebrates Balanchine’s twenty-fifth year as choreographer with two full evenings of his work; for the occasion he creates Pas de Deux (Tchaikovsky) [225] and stages Ballet Imperial and Mozartiana. ― In Mexico City, with former American Ballet Caravan members and advanced students of School of American Ballet, choreographs ballets for productions of the Ópera Nacional, Palacio de Bellas Artes [226-228], and stages ballets including Concerto Barocco and Apollo. ― Choreographs dances for Broadway musical Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston (Johann Strauss the Younger– Stolz) [229]. ― Choreographs Circus Polka (Stravinsky), Élégie (Stravinsky) and Symphonie Concertante. (Mozart) [230, 245, 241] for Carnegie Hall performance with students of School of American Ballet for Adventure in Ballet, Kirstein’s first enterprise in ballet following his return from wartime service.
1946-1948 Ballet Society
For Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, choreographs The Night Shadow (Rieti) [232], stages Le Baiser de la Fée, and collaborates with Alexandra Danilova in a version of Raymonda (Glazounov) [233] after Petipa. ― In Hollywood begins choreography for film titled The Life and Loves of Pavlova, canceled after two months. ― Stages traditional Maryinsky Act II death scene for Ballet Theatre revival of Giselle (Adam) [234]. ― With Kirstein, organizes Ballet Society, Inc., a subscription-supported company to advance lyric theater. ― For first performance, at Central High School of Needle Trades, Balanchine rechoreographs L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Ravel) [235] for its American premiere and creates The Four Temperaments (Hindemith) [236] to score he commissioned from composer in 1940. ― Balanchine and Kirstein commission Orpheus from Stravinsky; Balanchine goes to Hollywood to work with the composer.
For second series of Ballet Society performances, at Hunter College Playhouse, choreographs Renard (Stravinsky) [237] and Divertimento (Haieff) [238]. ― Stages dances for Broadway production of operetta The Chocolate Soldier (Oscar Straus) [239]. ― During six months as guest ballet master of Paris Opéra, mounts Serenade, Le Baiser de la Fée, and Apollon Musagète and to recently rediscovered Bizet First Symphony creates Le Palais de Cristal [240]. ― In Hollywood, continues work on Orpheus with Stravinsky. ― During first series of Ballet Society performances at City Center of Music and Drama in New York, presents Symphonie Concertante (Mozart) [241]. ― Choreographs Theme and Variations (Tchaikovsky) [242] for Ballet Theatre.
Choreographs The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne (Rieti) [243] for second series of Ballet Society performances at City Center. ― Ballet Society gives American premiere of Le Palais de Cristal retitled Symphony in C [244]. ― Ballet Society presents Élégie (Stravinsky) [245] and the Stravinsky– Balanchine–Noguchi Orpheus [246] at City Center of Music and Drama in what prove to be its final performances. ― Following the premiere of Orpheus, Morron Baum, Chairman of Executive Committee of City Center, invites Kirstein and Balanchine to found permanent company to be called New York City Ballet with residency at City Center; Ballet Society, Inc., continues as sponsor for special projects. ― In addition to presenting independent repertory, company is to provide opera ballets for New York City Opera productions; ballet evenings are to be Mondays and Tuesdays. ― In Monte Carlo, for Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, stages Night Shadow and Concerto Barocco and choreographs Pas de Trois Classique (Minkus) [247] after Petipa. ― While preparing inaugural season of New York City Ballet, Balanchine choreographs dances for Broadway musical Where’s Charley? (Loesser) [249] and ballets for New York City Opera [248,251-253, 255, 256]. ― New York City Ballet and Where’s Charley? open October 11. ― For first performance, New York City Ballet presents Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C; second performance consists of Serenade, The Four Temperaments, and Orpheus. ― Directs movements for actors in Broadway production of Giraudoux’s play The Madwoman of Chaillot [257].
1949-1964 New York Ballet (City Center)
New York City Ballet presents first independent season and provides New York City Opera ballets [258, 260]. ― Company is to give regular repertory seasons each year at City Center and later at New York State Theater (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES). ― For Ballet Theatre, adapts Petipa’s choreography for Princess Aurora [259] and Don Quixote and Swan Lake (Black Swan) Pas de Deux [262]. ― Balanchine’s first original production for television, Cinderella [261], to music by Tchaikovsky, is telecast on CBS. ― Stages Fokine’s choreography of La Mort du Cygne (Saint-Saëns) [263] for performance at Holland Festival in Amsterdam. ― For New York City Ballet, choreographs Stravinsky’s Firebird [264] and Bourrée Fantasque (Chabrier) [265].
Revives Prokofiev’s Prodigal Son [267] for New York City Ballet and appears several times in role of the Father. ― Choreographs Pas de Deux Romantique (Weber) [268] and with Jerome Robbins creates Jones Beach (Andriessen) [269]. ― In London, stages Ballet Imperial for Sadler’s Wells Ballet at invitation of Ninette de Valois. ― New York City Ballet presents six-week season at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, and makes three-week tour of England in first of frequent foreign tours (See ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES). ― Choreographs Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto [270] for touring company of Sadler’s Wells Ballet. ― For New York City Ballet stages The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) (Stravinsky) and choreographs Mazurka from ‘A Life for the Tsar’ (Glinka) and Sylvia:Pas de Deux (Delibes) [271-273].
Engaged by Samuel Goldwyn to choreograph dances for film Hans Christian Andersen, but schedule conflicts with New York City Ballet season prevent participation. ― Is principal choreographer for Music and Dance [274], presented by National Orchestral Society at Carnegie Hall, performed by members of New York City Ballet and students from School of American Ballet. ― For New York City Ballet, stages The Card Game (Stravinsky) and Pas de Trois (Minkus), and choreographs Ravel’s La Valse and Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brillant [275-277, 279]. ― Choreographs pavane to music by David Diamond for Dwight Deere Wiman’s Broadway production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet [278]. ― New York City Ballet presents first American season outside New York at Civic Opera House, Chicago. ― Stages dances for Broadway musical comedy Courtin’ Time (Lawrence/Walker) [280]. ― New York City Ballet dances La Valse on first color television program, broadcast by CBS. ― For New York City Ballet, choreographs À la Françaix (Françaix) andTyl Ulenspiegel (Richard Strauss), stages Apollon Musagète under title Apollo, Leader of the Muses and presents his own version of Act II of the Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake [282-285].
For New York City Ballet choreographs Caracole [286] to Mozart’s Divertimento No. 15, and Bayou (Thomson) [287]. ― In Milan stages Ballet Imperial for ballet company of La Scala. ― New York City Ballet forms exchange program with San Francisco Ballet which stages Serenade. ― For New York City Ballet choreographs Scotch Symphony (Mendelssohn), Metamorphoses (Hindemith), Harlequinade Pas de Deux (Drigo), and Concertino (Françaix) [288-290, 292]. ― As Christmas program for television, stages abridged treatment of Coppélia (Delibes), titled One, Yuletide Square [291].
Choreographs Valse Fantaisie (Glinka) [293] for New York City Ballet. — Company performs in Washington, D.C., on eve of inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. — Publication of Anatole Chujoy’s book The New York City Ballet (Knopf). — Choreographs The Countess Becomes the Maid [294] to music by Johann Strauss the Younger for telecast on Kate Smith Hour. — Directs American premiere of Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress [295] for Metropolitan Opera. — Arranges Cotillion Promenade [296] for five hundred couples at Negro Debutante Ball, 369th Armory, in Harlem, New York City. — Stages opera ballets for La Scala in Milan and in Florence [297-300]. — New York City Ballet performs in Colorado and California on first of continuing tours throughout United States (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES).
Appears on cover of Time magazine. — Choreographs Opus 34 (Schoenberg) [301] while preparing The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky) [302], New York City Ballet’s first full-length ballet and most elaborate production, using children from School of American Ballet. — Publication of Balanchine’s Complete Stories of the Great Ballets edited by Francis Mason (Doubleday). — Choreographs Western Symphony (Kay) [303]; Ivesiana [304] is given premiere four months after death of composer Charles Ives. — Creates dances for Broadway musical House of Flowers (Arlen) [305] but withdraws prior to New York opening.
For New York City Ballet, choreographs Roma (Bizet) [306] and Pas de Trois (Glinka) [307]. — Stages ballet masque for American Shakespeare Festival production of The Tempest [308] in Stratford, Connecticut. — Choreographs Pas de Dix (Glazounov) [309] and sections of Jeux d’Enfants (Bizet) [310] for New York City Ballet.
Stage director of NBC Opera Theatre color telecast of The Magic Flute (Mozart) [311]. ― School of American Ballet moves to new classrooms at 2291 Broadway. ― For New York City Ballet, choreographs Allegro Brillante (Tchaikovsky) [312]. ― Choreographs A Musical Joke (Mozart) [313] and Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart) [314] for bicentennial Mozart Festival produced by American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut. ― Stages Apollon Musagète and Serenade for Royal Danish Ballet during five-month absence from United States.
Company travels to Montreal for first formal filming of ballets from repertory, made for Canadian Broadcasting Company; Pas de Dix and Serenade are among initial works made into kinescopes for telecasts; others are filmed during subsequent visits. — Choreographs Square Dance (Vivaldi—Corelli) [315]. — Working closely with Stravinsky, creates Agon [316] to third Stravinsky commission by Balanchine and Kirstein; the others are The Card Party and Orpheus. — The Nutcracker in live telecast on CBS.
Immediately following Agon, choreographs Gounod Symphony [317] and Stars and Stripes (Sousa-Kay) [318]. — New York City Ballet makes five-month tour of Japan, Australia, and Philippines sponsored by United States Department of State and American National Theatre and Academy (ANTA) (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES). — Choreographs dance passages for American Shakespeare Festival productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream [319] and The Winter’s Tale [320]. — Choreographs Waltz-Scherzo (Tchaikovsky) [321] and a new version of The Seven Deadly Sins (Weill/Brecht) [322] for New York City Ballet. — Designs production of The Nutcracker especially for CBS Christmas telecast; performs role of Drosselmeyer.
Choreographs Native Dancers (Rieti) [323] for New York City Ballet. ― Company performs Stars and Stripes at inauguration celebration of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller in Albany. ― In Paris, stages Gounod Symphony for Opéra Ballet. ― Choreographs Episodes, Part II [324] to music by Webern; at his invitation Part I is choreographed by Martha Graham. ― Invited by Kirstein, Imperial Gagaku troupe of dancers and singers from Japan performs on regular programs of New York City Ballet. ― For American Shakespeare Festival, stages dances for productions of Romeo and Juliet [325] and The Merry Wives of Windsor [326]. ― Under W. McNeil Lowry, Director of the Program in Humanities and the Arts, the Ford Foundation awards grant to Ballet Society enabling School of American Ballet to survey American ballet instruction and to establish first national scholarship fund. ― Through Department of State Balanchine arranges to give his ballets to state-supported national companies in Europe; first companies to benefit are La Scala, Netherlands Ballet, and Royal Swedish Ballet.
For New York City Ballet, revives Night Shadow (later called La Sonnambula, Rieti), creates Panamerica (Latin American composers), stages Theme and Variations (Tchaikovsky), and choreographs Pas de Deux (Tchaikovsky) [328-331]; creates The Figure in the Carpet (Handel) [332] in honor of Fourth International Congress of Iranian Art and Archeology. — Gives first of continuing School of American Ballet seminars for regional teachers, a four-day program. — Theme and Variations performed by American Ballet Theatre during first visit by an American ballet company to the Soviet Union.— Symphony in C and The Four Temperaments performed in People’s Republic of China by Royal Swedish Ballet. — New York City Ballet performs series of Saturday matinees for underprivileged New York City children, sponsored by Ballet Society. — Balanchine presides at Ballet Society national convocation of ballet company directors. — For Company choreographs Variations from Don Sebastian (later called Donizetti Variations), Monumentum pro Gesualdo (Stravinsky), Liebeslieder Walzer (Brahms), and Ragtime (1) (Stravinsky) [333-336].
For New York City Ballet, choreographs Modern Jazz Variants (Schuller) [337] and Electronics (Gassmann-Sala) [338], the latter to electronic tape. — Atlanta Civic Ballet presents Serenade, first result of Balanchine’s offer to make works available to United States regional companies capable of staging them. — Assists in efforts to form company that becomes Pennsylvania Ballet. — For New York City Ballet, choreographs Valses et Variations (Raymonda Variations, Glazounov) [339].
Choreographs A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn) [340], his first wholly original full-length ballet. ― Under auspices of New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Ballet makes first of continuing tours to upstate New York; also gives lecture-demonstrations in twelve cities. ― In Germany stages and choreographs Eugen Onegin (Tchaikovsky) [341] for Hamburg State Opera at invitation of its director Rolf Liebermann. ― Working with Stravinsky, choreographs Noah and the Flood [342], composed for television. ― Returns to Hamburg with dancers of New York City Ballet to participate with Stravinsky in celebrations of composer’s eightieth birthday; Agon, Orpheus and Apollo are performed. ― Participates in planning Saratoga Performing Arts Center at Saratoga Springs, New York. ― Company performs in Germany and Austria, and Balanchine returns to Russia for the first time since leaving in 1924 as Company makes its initial tour of Soviet Union, visiting Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Tbilisi, and Baku (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES).
Publication of Bernard Taper’s biography Balanchine (Macmillan). ― In Washington, D. C., New York City Ballet dances Stars and Stripes at Second Anniversary Inaugural Celebration of Kennedy administration. ― For Company choreographs Bugaku (Mayuzumi) [343] and Movements for Piano and Orchestra (Stravinsky) [344]. ― New York City Ballet begins lecture-demonstrations in New York City schools. ― Directs and choreographs Gluck’s Orpheus und Eurydike [345] for Hamburg State Opera. ― For Company, choreographs Meditation (Tchaikovsky) [346]. ― Stages Concerto Barocco, Scotch Symphony, The Four Temperaments, and Bourrée Fantasque for Paris Opéra Ballet. ― Ford Foundation makes first of a series of grants to support New York Cîty Ballet and first of two grants to School of American Ballet.
Last performances of New York City Ballet at City Center; choreographs Tarantella (Gottschalk-Kay) [347]. ? Company participates in gala opening of New York State Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Philip Johnson in consultation with Balanchine and Kirstein. ? Clarinade (Gould) [348] is first work choreographed for Company in new permanent home. ? Establishes costume shop for New York City Ballet under direction of Barbara Karinska. ? Founds James A. Doolittle–George Balanchine Ballet of Los Angeles, intended to become permanent West Coast company closely associated with New York City Ballet; company will disband after two years. ? For large-scale stage of New York State Theater, restages The Nutcracker with new scenery and costumes; mounts Ballet Imperial (Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2) [349] for its first New York City Ballet production.
1965-1983 New York Ballet (New York State Theater)
For New York City Ballet, choreographs Pas de Deux and Divertissement (Delibes) [350] and Harlequinade (Drigo) [351]; creates full-length ballet Don Quixote (Nabokov) [352] and performs title role at preview performance. — First annual School of American Ballet Workshop performance.
New York City Ballet has first subscription season; subscription plan significantly enlarges audience attending on regular basis. ― Choreographs Variations (Stravinsky) [353] and Brahms―Schoenberg Quartet [354]. ― For A Festival of Stravinsky: His Heritage and His Legacy, directed by Lucas Foss at New York’s Philharmonic Hall, choreographs Élégie [355] and Ragtime (II) [356]. ― New York City Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream becomes first feature-length film of a ballet made in United States; filming is under Balanchine’s direction and supervision. ― First New York City Ballet season at new permanent summer home, Sararoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York, where it is to give seasons each July (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES). ― In Stockholm supervises final rehearsals for Royal Swedish Ballet all-Balanchine evening.
For New York City Ballet, choreographs Trois Valses Romantiques (Chabrier), the full-length, plotless Jewels (Fauré, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky), and Glinkiana [357-359].
For New York City Ballet, creates Metastaseis & Pithoprakta (Xenakis) [360] and restages Slaughter on Tenth Avenue [361], originally created for On Your Toes in 1936. — Produces and directs stage movements for Company performance of Requiem Canticles (Stravinsky) [362], presented once in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. — For Ed Sullivan Show on television, choreographs Diana and Actaeon Pas de Deux (Pugni) [363]. — Choreographs La Source (Delibes) [364] for New York City Ballet.
For Hamburg State Opera, stages and choreographs first production outside Russia of Glinka’s opera Ruslan und Ludmilla [365]. ― Agrees to allow his ballets to be staged by West Berlin Ballet Ensemble, to work with young choreographers there, and to encourage exchanges between Berlin and New York City Ballet. ― For New York City Ballet, stages second section of Glinkiana, Valse Fantaisie [366], as separate ballet. ― Between New York and Saratoga seasons, New York City Ballet participates in Diaghilev Festival held in Monte Carlo to commemorate fortieth anniversary of last season of Ballets Russes and sixtieth anniversary of founding of that company, performing Apollo and Prodigal Son. ― School of American Ballet moves to its own specially designed quarters in Juilliard School of Music building at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. ― In Switzerland, stages four-act production of Ivanov/Petipa Le Lac des Cygnes (Tchaikovsky) [367] for Ballet du Grand Théâtre, Geneva. ― In West Berlin, rehearses Berlin Opera Ballet in Episodes, Symphony in C, and Apollon Musagète in preparation for its first all-Balanchine evening. ― Becomes artistic advisor of ballet school and company of Grand Théâtre, Geneva, which presents its first all-Balanchine evening. ― Kirstein becomes Chairman of the Board and Balanchine a Vice President of Dance Theatre of Harlem, the predominantly black classical ballet company and school newly founded by former New York City Ballet principal Arthur Mitchell. ― National Endowment for the Arts makes first of a series of grants to New York City Ballet.
For New York City Ballet, creates Who Cares? (Gershwin) [368] and choreographs full Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 [369] incorporating choreography of the 1947 Theme and Variations as fourth movement. ― With Robbins creates new version of Firebird [368.1]. — Receives Handel Medallion, New York City’s highest cultural award. ― New York State Council on the Arts makes first of a series of grants for New York City Ballet production and administration costs.
Dance Theatre of Harlem appears with New York City Ballet in single performance of Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra (Liebermann) [370], choreographed by Balanchine and Mitchell. ― Choreographs PAMTGG [371] to music based on radio and television airline commercial (‘Pan Am Makes the Going Great’). ― Ballet du Grand Théâtre in Geneva presents performances of Divertimento No. 15, Episodes, Theme and Variations, and Who Cares? with guest artists from New York City Ballet.
Under auspices of New York State Council on the Arts, Governor Rockefeller presents New York State Award to Balanchine honoring his unique contribution to development of dance and dance audiences in New York. ― Conceives and directs eight-day festival to celebrate the music of Stravinsky, who had died in 1971, honoring ninetieth anniversary of composer’s birth (see FESTIVALS DIRECTED BY BALANCHINE) ― Thirty-one ballets to Stravinsky compositions are presented, twenty-two of which are newly created by seven choreographers. ― Ten new ballets and stagings are by Balanchine: Sonata, Symphony in Three Movements, Violin Concerto, Danses Concertantes (revised from first presentation in 1944), Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fée,’ Scherzo à la Russe, Duo Concertant, Pulcinella, Choral Variations on Bach’s ‘Vom Himmel Hoch,’ and a staging of Symphony of Psalms [372-381]. ― In Pulcinella, choreographed in collaboration with Robbîns, Balanchine and Robbins dance as masked beggars. ― In Munich, New York City Ballet represents United States in cultural presentations at Olympic Games. ― Company makes second tour of Soviet Union, followed by first engagement in Poland (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES).
Tschaikovsky Concerto No. 2 [382, originally created in 1941 as Ballet Imperial] is given first performance by New York City Ballet in revised form. ― In West Berlin, stages Act II Polovtsian Dances (based on Fokine’s choreography) for Berlin Opera production of Borodin’s Prince Igor [383]. ― Choreographs Cortège Hongrois [384]. ― In Paris, rehearses ballet sequences for Paris Opera production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and Symphony in C for Paris Opera Ballet. ― Choreographs Cortège Hongrois for Melissa Hayden on her retirement from New York City Ballet. ― Goes to Berlin with eighty-one members of New York City Ballet for RM Productions filming of fifteen Balanchine ballets. ― Publication of Kirstein’s The New York City Ballet (Knopf) marks Company’s twenty-fifth anniversary year.
For Company creates Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir (Henry) [386], to musique concrète recorded on tape. ― For Sararoga Springs premiere, Balanchine and Danilova recreate full-length production of Coppélia (Delibes) [387] from Petipa choreography. ― Stages polonaise for Metropolitan Opera production of Boris Godunov (Moussorgsky) [388].
Conceives and supervises New York City Ballet Ravel Festival in honor of the composer and France (see FESTIVALS DIRECTED BY BALANCHINE). ― During two-week period, twenty ballets are presented to Ravel’s music; sixteen are new works by four choreographers, eight by Balanchine. ― These are Sonatine, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (his third version of the opera-ballet), Shéhérazade, Le Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane, Tzigane, Gaspard de la Nuit, and Rapsodie Espagnole [389-396]. ― France awards Balanchine Order of the Légion d’Honneur. ― Choreographs Walpurgisnacht Ballet in Paris Opéra production of Faust (Gounod) [397]. ― In Saratoga Springs, The Steadfast Tin Soldier (Bizet) [398] receives premiere during Company’s summer season.
Chaconne [400], based on choreography for 1963 Hamburg State Opera production of Gluck’s Orpheus und Eurydike, presented by New York City Ballet as an independent ballet. ― Creates Union Jack [401] to British military, music-hall, and folk music arranged by Hershy Kay as New York City Ballet tribute to United States Bicentennial. ― In Paris, as part of French salute to Bicentennial, New York City Ballet gives series of performances featuring ballets from Stravinsky repertory (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES). ― Choreographs dances for School of American Ballet students in Juilliard American Opera Center production of Le Roi Malgré Lui (Chabrier) [403]. ― Revival of The Seven Deadly Sins is rehearsed by New York City Ballet but canceled due to musicians’ strike.
Publication of Nancy Reynolds’s Repertory in Review: Forty Years of the New York City Ballet (Dial). ― Choreographs Étude for Piano (Scriabin) [405] for first Spoleto Festival U. S. A. in Charleston, South Carolina. ― Creates Vienna Waltzes (Johann Strauss the Younger, Lehár, Richard Strauss) [406] for New York City Ballet. ― Balanchine and members of Company travel to Nashville, Tennessee, to film under his direction first of series of five programs devoted to his ballets for Dance in America on public television. ― In Montreal, under his supervision, Canadian Broadcasting System films Bugaku and Chaconne.
Creates for Company Ballo della Regina (Verdi) [407] and Kammermusik No. 2 (Hindemith) [408]. ― Coppélia is televised as New York City Ballet’s first appearance on public television’s Live from Lincoln Center series. ― School of American Ballet becomes first professional dance academy to receive a major grant from National Endowment for the Arts and in 1980 first to receive a Challenge Grant. ― Balanchine suffers mild heart attack.— Supervises production of Tricolore (Auric) [409] which, with Stars and Stripes and Union Jack, forms an ‘Entente Cordiale.’ ― In appreciation of his contribution to Royal Danish Ballet is named Knight of the Order of Dannebrog, First Class. ― First annual Kennedy Center Honors are presented by President Jimmy Carter to Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Richard Rodgers, and Arthur Rubinstein.
Choreographs Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Richard Strauss) [410] as first Balanchine ballet presented by New York City Opera together with an opera performance and assists with pantomime scenes in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell) [411]. — In London rehearses Royal Ballet production of Liebeslieder Walzer. — New York City Ballet, in cooperation with Board of Education, presents first annual Young People’s Matinee at New York State Theater for New York City public-school children. — Undergoes triple bypass surgery.
For New York City Ballet choreographs Fauré’s Ballade [412] and stages Walpurgisnacht Ballet (Gounod) [413] to music from Faust, earlier choreographed for Paris Opéra. ― Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Richard Strauss) [414] enters New York City Ballet repertory. ― Creates for Company Robert Schumann’s ‘Davidsbündlertänze’ [415]. ― Receives first National Gold Medal Award of National Society of Arts and Letters. ― New York City Ballet performs in festivals honoring Stravinsky Centennial in Berlin and Paris (see ITINERARIES UNDERTAKEN BY BALANCHINE’S AMERICAN COMPANIES).
For special production designed for television using New York City Ballet dancers creates fourth realization of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges [416]. ― Organizes and presents two-week Tchaikovsky Festival for New York City Ballet (see FESTIVALS DIRECTED BY BALANCHINE). ― Included are twelve new works by six choreographers, of which Balanchine choreographs two and sections of two others; these are Mozartiana, Hungarian Gypsy Airs, Garland Dance from The Sleeping Beauty for Tempo di Valse, and Adagio Lamentoso from Symphony No. 6―Pathétique [417-420].
Plans acoustical improvements for New York State Theater. ― To celebrate one-hundredth anniversary of Stravinsky’s birth, conceives and supervises Stravinsky Centennial Celebration by New York City Ballet (see FESTIVALS DIRECTED BY BALANCHINE). ― Between June 10 and June 18, twenty-five ballets and staged choral works set to Stravinsky’s music by six choreographers are performed. ― Of ten new works, Balanchine choreographs Tango and Élégie, and co-stages Noah and the Flood and Perséphone [421-424]. ― Following official closing of Centennial Celebration rechoreographs as solo for a ballerina Stravinsky’s Variations for Orchestra [425].—In November, after some years of ill health, Balanchine is admitted to Roosevelt Hospital where he will spend the last five months of his life.
Peter Martins appointed Co-chairman of Faculty, School of American Ballet. — Revival of On Your Toes [166], with additional choreography by Martins. — In March, Balanchine in absentia presented with Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan. — On March 16, Balanchine named Ballet Master Emeritus of the New York City Ballet, Martins and Jerome Robbins become Ballet Masters-in-Chief. — Balanchine dies of pneumonia on April 30, New York City, after suffering for some time from what was posthumously diagnosed as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. — Balanchine is buried May 3 in Sag Harbor, Long Island, where he had long maintained a summer home.