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George Balanchine

Rachel Hannon11.13.00 One of the most important and influential people in the world of ballet is George Balanchine. He became a legend long before he died. He brought the standards of dance up to a level that had never been seen before, and he created a new audience for ballet. Balanchine was one of the greatest and most prolific choreographers in ballet history, choreographing at least 300 ballets; he was rivaled in quantity only by Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa. At the age of nine he started training at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg. He rarely saw his family because they lived far away and he became the ward of Grigory Grigorevich, who was in charge of the school. There Balanchine performed his first role as cupid in Sleeping Beauty. During the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Imperial School closed and the students were put out on the street. Balanchine was cut off from his family in the Caucasus, and was taken in to live with Mr. Grigorevich. The school did reopen and Balanchine graduated in 1921. He then joined the Soviet State Ballet. Upon graduation Balanchine married Geva, a fellow student whom he had met in the ballroom dancing class. Geva described her husband as a cross between a poet and a general. In order to have his choreography seen, Blanchine organized a small company called The Young Ballet, to perform at halturas (bread and butter jobs). At the Maryinsky, Balanchine had been assigned to stage the procession in Rimski-Korsakoff's opera Coq d'Or, and what he devised, although beautiful, shattered tradition. The company tried to re-train him, but he wouldn't conform. His choreography continued to be controversial, so the board at the Maryinsky Theater dismissed him from the company. They also threatened all of Blanchine's dancers with the same fate if they continued to dance for him. In 1924, with Vladimir Dimitriev's help, Balanchine, Tamara Geva, Nic...

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