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George Balanchine Summary

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Essentially the work of dance critic Richard Buckle, with the assistance of John Taras, who knew Balanchine well and conducted several crucial interviews for the biography, GEORGE BALANCHINE provides much new information on the subject’s life--including his early days in his native Russia.

Readers with some knowledge of dance will be fascinated with how certain typical Balanchine movements were developed early in his career. For example, in describing the choreographer’s youthful work, POEME, Buckle notes that “the gentle lowering onto pointe and the soaring supported exit would occur in later more famous works.”

Other important American figures in Balanchine’s career--especially Lincoln Kirstein--contributed important evidence and testimony and are featured in this well-told story of a great talent who always seemed to profit from the intervention of influential and powerful personalities in his career.

Buckle also tells the story of Balanchine’s private life, his marriages to five beautiful ballerinas, and his penchant for practical jokes. To the biographer, Balanchine is to dance in the twentieth century what Michelangelo was to sculpture in the sixteenth. Devotees of other forms of dance may question this judgment but not Balanchine’s genius or his biographer’s dedication to his subject. Excellent source notes and a comprehensive index make this an invaluable tool for the student of dance.