The foremost contemporary choreographer in the history of ballet, George Balanchine extended the art form into radical new paths that came to seem inevitable under his direction. He transformed movement and dance in classical and modern ballet, on the Broadway stage, and in the cinema.
George Balanchine chronicles the life and achievements of this visionary artist from his early, almost accidental career in Russia, where his lifelong collaboration with Igor Stravinsky was forged, to his extraordinary accomplishments in America. The editor and writer Robert Gottlieb, one of the most knowledgeable dance critics in America, offers a superb and loving portrait of a genius who, though married many times to many ballerinas, remained truest to his greatest love, Terpischore, the Greek Muse of dance.
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 .... 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.