The money will be used to film Balanchine's lost choreography and the original interpretations of his ballets

NEW YORK CITY — Just in time for the 100th anniversary of George Balanchine's birthday, the National Endowment for the Arts has announced it has selected the George Balanchine Foundation to receive a matching grant of $50,000 under the federal grants program, Save America's Treasures (SAT) for 2003. SAT supports the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures and collections. Selection criteria require that each project be of national significance, demonstrate an urgent preservation need, have an educational or other public benefit, and demonstrate the likely availability of matching funds. The George Balanchine Foundation is one of only sixty-three awardees nationwide.

NEA Chairman Dana Gioa said, "The preservation of our cultural and artistic resources ensures that future generations will have access to America's great treasures. Whether creating dance video archives or preserving rare sheet music for 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' these projects secure the longevity of our distinctive American heritage."

Once the George Balanchine Foundation has obtained $50,000 in non-federal matching funds, it will use the NEA money to extend its Video Archives Program, which was created in 1994 by Nancy Reynolds, the Foundation's director of research. The Video Archives Program has two missions. The Archive of Lost Choreography reconstructs and videotapes fragments of Balanchine works that are no longer performed, while the Interpreters Archive videotapes Balanchine roles as recalled and coached by the dancers on whom he created them. The teaching sessions are then supplemented with brief interviews conducted by dance scholars to cover aspects of the choreography not already mentioned by the coach. The overall goal of the Video Archives Program is to create an original "manuscript" of Balanchine's ballets by preserving the choreography and execution of roles as Balanchine taught them to his first casts — something that, until now, has never existed.

So far the Video Archives Program has completed more than 30 videotapes. Examples include solos from Balanchine's lost Raymonda of 1946, and legendary dancers Todd Bolender, Maria Tallchief and Allegra Kent coaching today's dancers in seminal roles from such ballets as The Four Temperaments, Orpheus and Bugaku. Copies of the resulting videotapes are now available in 52 libraries around the world.

The George Balanchine Foundation believes it is essential to record how Balanchine thought about his ballets, and how he wanted them danced, and that the best way to do this is by consulting the dancers on whom he choreographed them. Many of these performers are now in their 70's and 80's, so it is imperative to take advantage of their muscle memories before it is too late. By pairing the latest video technology with the dancers whom Balanchine personally directed, the George Balanchine Foundation has pioneered a new way to capture the nuances of body positions, phrasing and emotional shading that make Balanchine's ballets distinctive and give them meaning.

"Now that we have the ability to record this fragile art," said Barbara Horgan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the George Balanchine Foundation, "we have the obligation to use it."

The George Balanchine Foundation is a non-profit corporation founded in 1983. Its mission is to create programs that educate the public and further the work and aesthetic of George Balanchine in order to facilitate high standards of excellence in dance and related arts.