Synopses & Reviews
Balanchine's life story is a fascinating journey -- from his near-accidental enrollment, at the age of nine, in St. Petersburg's Imperial School of Ballet, through the deprivation and hunger of Bolshevik Russia, to Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and finally, in 1933, to the United States and eventually to the New York City Ballet, to which his reputation is forever tied. As his fame spread around the world, Balanchine's ideas revolutionized ballet, extending the vocabulary of classical dance both through his teaching and through a series of great works, from his crucial collaboration with Stravinsky to his restagings of nineteenth-century classics, including the immensely popular Nutcracker.
Even as he was championing classical ballet during the thirties and forties, Balanchine was expanding the possibilities of dance on Broadway, choreographing a series of major musicals (four Rodgers and Hart shows, including On Your Toes, with its famous "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue"). Meanwhile in Hollywood, beginning with The Goldwyn Follies, he was successfully exploring the possibilities of filmed dance.
His personal life was as highly charged as his professional life, involving five dancer-wives, including Broadway stars Tamara Geva (On Your Toes) and Vera Zorina (I Married an Angel) and three great ballerinas, most notably Maria Tallchief.
In this loving biography, Robert Gottlieb chronicles the life and achievements of ballet's foremost choreographer. Drawing on his own involvement with the New York City Ballet and his relationships with Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein (who brought Balanchine to America), and many of Balanchine's leading colleagues, Gottlieb has produced a compelling portrait of a vital man, one of the creative masters of the twentieth century.
"One would be hard-pressed to find a better match for Balanchine for this entry in the Eminent Lives series than Gottlieb, the distinguished editor and dance critic who for years was on the board of directors of the New York City Ballet. Although he knew Balanchine, Gottlieb is quick to point out it was not a close relationship: 'To me... he was a god, and I saw my role as being some kind of messenger of the gods.' But Gottlieb captures both the divine and human, offering an elegant, sharp and sophisticated take on the choreographer's life. In many instances he elaborates on points made in Bernard Taper's seminal biography, Balanchine. And he adds personal moments, such as Balanchine's comment regarding his choice of successor at the New York City Ballet: 'Balanchine made that very clear to me as we were standing in the wings together.... "It has to be Peter [Martins].... He knows what a ballerina needs."' This loving tribute captures Balanchine's legacy: his energy, confidence, lack of pretension and, most important, his joy in creation. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Timed to coincide with the 2004 centenary of the artist's birth, this biography--by gifted critic Gottlieb--describes the life of the foremost contemporary choreographer in ballet.
Part of the Eminent Lives
Series, this biography, written by the gifted author Robert Gottlieb, will describe the life of the dynamic George Balanchine, the foremost contemporary choreographer in ballet. Timed to coincide with the 2004 centenary of the artist's birth.
The life and achievement of the great choreographer who both summed up everything that proceeded him in ballet, and extended the art form into radical yet inevitable new paths. Leaving Revolutionary Russia in 1924 (he was 20), he joined Serge Diaghilev's famous Ballets Russes, where he created his first enduring masterpiece, Apollo, cementing his lifelong collaboration with Stravinsky.
In 1933 he arrived in America to found a school and a company, but the company as we know it – The New York City Ballet – didn't emerge until 1948. Meanwhile, he made ballets wherever opportunity allowed, while choreographing Broadway shows (four for Rodgers and Hart), movies (The Goldwyn Follies), even the circus – a ballet for elephants with a score by Stravinsky. By the time of his death, in 1983, he had been recognized as a member of the triad of the greatest modern masters, alongside Picasso and Stravinsky.
Balanchine was married many times, always to outstanding ballerinas, but his truest muse always remained Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance.
Written by the gifted author, editor, and dance critic Robert Gottlieb, George Balanchine describes the life and art of the celebrated, revolutionary ballet choreographer. Here is a necessary and singular look at the life of one of the great figures of the 20th Century: the dynamic Balanchine, founder of The New York City Ballet, collaborator of Stravinsky, and inspiration to countless fans over the course of his long and storied career. George Balanchine is another engaging entry in the HarperCollins “Eminent Lives” series of biographies by distinguished authors on canonical figures.
About the Author
The former editor in chief of Simon & Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf, and The New Yorker, Robert Gottlieb was on the board of directors of the New York City Ballet for many years. He writes literary criticism for the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker, and is the dance critic for the New York Observer.