Son of Georgian composer Meliton Balanchivadze. Brother of Georgian composer Andrei Balanchivadze.
His 1954 staging of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" is probably his most famous work. It is the version most responsible for making the complete ballet an annual Christmas tradition throughout the United States. It has been performed in New York City annually since 1954,and still continues its run there - and in 1965, Atlanta, Ga. was one of the first cities outside New York to be granted the rights to perform the Balanchine version. It has also been filmed.
Had unrequited romantic intentions with close friend and artistic muse Suzanne Farrell, prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet, even while he was still married. Balanchine received a Mexican divorce from his wife in order to marry Farrell, but returned to New York and found she had already married boyfriend and fellow New York City Ballet dancer Paul Mejia. Heartbroken, he kicked Mejia out of the company and when Farrell attempted to stand up for her husband she was also exiled. Farrell eventually reconciled with Balanchine and rejoined the company several years later. Balanchine never married again.
Quit dancing in his prime to choreograph.
The co-founder of the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet, he choreographed more than 80 works with his NYCB company.
Two of his wives played the same role in different productions of Rodgers and Hart's musical "On Your Toes", and both danced the ballet "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" in it. Tamara Geva appeared in the 1936 original Broadway production, in which her leading man was Ray Bolger, best known for playing "The Scarecrow" in the iconic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz (1939). Vera Zorina appeared in the 1939 film version of "On Your Toes", and her leading man was Eddie Albert, who later starred in the hit television series Green Acres (1965). The film version, however, dropped all the songs, although it kept the ballet music.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 32-35. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
He choreographed his very first work, a pas de deux called "La Nuit" for himself and a woman.
As a child, both he and his sister auditioned for the St. Petersburg's rigorous Imperial Theater School. His sister didn't make it, but he did. He was one of the few boys.
During the Russian Revolution, he played the piano in cabarets and silent movie houses for food and drink (when money was worthless).
(February 5, 1970) He was awarded the Handel Medallion, New York City's biggest award for cultural achievement at the State Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City.