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A comparison of America to Russia yields some further insights about how American ballet is different than its ancestor in Russia and Balanchine’s part in this relationship.  First and foremost Anderson points out that, “Although Russian-born, Balanchine admired America’s vigor and physicality and the freshness of the American people at their best” (151). The vigor, physicality and freshness of the American people was different than the Russian people he knew and he enjoyed this in his new country.  Anderson goes on to explain that, “Even at their most nonrepresentational, Balanchine’s works could still be considered American in spirit because of their energy and athleticism. Their language may be classical, but Balanchine choreographed classical ballets with an American accent” (152).  Balanchine took what he loved about the American people, their energy and athleticism and let those elements infuse his works.  Also Balanchine was still making ballet and not some new form of dance, his ballet just had an accent.  Furthermore, “Balanchine emphasized the extroversion of American dancers…” (Anderson 155). American dancers are social and like to be around lots of people and Balanchine included this in his choreography. This is a marked contrast to how, “The Russians keep their audience at arm’s length.  We almost invite ours to dance with us. Anyone of us would like to know Fred Astaire, since we have known other nice, clever but unassuming boys like him” (Kirstein 201).   American dancers are much more inviting and friendly to their audience than the Russians.  Kirstein goes on to state, “The American style will not imitate the Russian, but instead be its equivalent for our time and place. Our legitimate reflection of a Democracy is of necessity not distant, but immediately intimate” (200). Here Kirstein explains that the democracy of America is one difference between the ballet styles of both countries, especially since the democracy of America is one thing Americans are most proud.  Also American ballet is not trying to be better than Russian ballet, but instead to be its equal. Kirstein further points out that, “There is pride in both styles, the awareness of the human body in all its super-human released essential energy” (200).  All ballet dancers have to have a super human awareness of their body and how to use their body’s energy affectively.  Both Russian and American styles of ballet take a tremendous amount of pride in what they dance.  In the end, Kirstein explains,

American style springs or should spring from our own training and environment, which was not an Imperial School or a Parisian imitation of it.  Ours is a style bred also from basket-ball courts, track and swimming meets and junior-proms. Our style springs from the personal atmosphere of recognizable American types as exemplified by the behavior of movie-stars like Ginger Rogers, Carole Lombard, or the late Jean Harlow. It is frank, open, fresh and friendly. It can be funny without seeming arch, and serious without seeming pained (200).

The style of American ballet does not come from a ballet school like in Russia or Paris that is ruled by the royal government, the common people rule the American school. American dancers receive their training in the ballet studio as well as in sports like basketball, track and swimming and at social dances.  Americans are influenced by famous movie stars that behave a certain way.  They are friendly, new and willing to interact socially and able to find the comedy of simple things.  Russian and American styles of ballet have many differences, mostly springing from the atmosphere and environment they were created in and the cultural values of the people dancing in the ballets. These differences also show that Balanchine had indeed created a new style of ballet that was all-American.

2 thoughts on “George Balanchine

  1. Your are such a good writer! I sent this post with 2 others of your last ones to Grandma Jensen with her Mothers Day gift. Have a wonderful day!! Much love, Mom

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