George Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1904. He joined the State Theatre of Opera and Ballet in St. Petersburg at the age of 17. In 1924, Mr. Balanchine was invited by Serge Diaghilev to join Ballets Russes in Paris and was hired as Ballet Master in 1925, holding this position until the company was dissolved in 1929. Mr. Balanchine formed his own company, Les Ballets 1933 in Paris and shortly thereafter met the American dance connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein, which led him to move to the US. In collaboration with Mr. Kirstein, Mr. Balanchine formed the School of American Ballet and American Ballet, which later became the resident ballet company at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Mr. Balanchine was choreographer for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1944 to 1946 and in 1946, he formed Ballet Society, which became New York City Ballet in 1948. He held the title of Ballet Master with New York City Ballet until his death in 1983.
A major artistic figure of the 20th century, Mr. Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of classical ballet. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of ballet in the US. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.