The Worlds of Balanchine

James Steichen at The Nation:

It’s fitting that choreographer George Balanchine is experiencing a cultural moment around the 40th anniversary of his death. In the ephemeral realm of dance, the longevity of his influence is unique and it shows no signs of waning. Balanchine’s ballets—beloved for their sophisticated abstraction and musicality—have become staples of the repertoire for ballet companies in the United States and beyond, and they have been performed more often since his death than during his lifetime. Two institutions jointly founded by Balanchine and impresario Lincoln Kirstein—the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and the School of American Ballet (SAB)—continue to cultivate his artistic legacy on the stages and in the classrooms of Lincoln Center. Among his other accomplishments, Balanchine made The Nutcracker a Christmas classic in the United States, and for many ballet enthusiasts it would be as difficult to conceive of ballet without Balanchine as it would be to spend the holidays without the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Just as Balanchine towers over ballet, a recent biographical portrait of him looms larger than the rest: Jennifer Homans’s long-awaited Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century.

more here.