BALANCHINE, GEORGE. (1904-1983). American choreographer considered the father of American ballet, co-founder and long-time artistic director of the New York City Ballet. A pair of black leather children’s ballet slippers each signed on the insole. (“George Balanchine”). N.p. [New York], N.d. [c. 1970s.]
Trained at the Imperial Ballet School and the Petrograd Conservatory, Balanchine fled Soviet Russia for Paris in 1924, where famed impresario Serge Diaghilev invited him to join his Ballets Russes as choreographer that led to collaborations with composers Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, and artists Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse. Following Diaghilev’s death and the demise of the Ballets Russes, Balanchine settled in the United States, where he established the School of American Ballet, the Ballet Society dance company and the New York City Ballet. In addition to elevating the art form of ballet in the United States, Balanchine choreographed for Broadway and Hollywood.
Created in 1954, Balanchine’s staging of The Nutcracker is performed every Christmas season and widely performed throughout the world. Our shoes were worn by a young student at the School of American Ballet who was cast in Balanchine’s productions of The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet during the 1970s. Signing of ballet slippers as mementos was customary among the “Nutcracker Kids” but it was unheard of for Balanchine, who at the time still attended the dress rehearsal. During a break, the 10-year-old owner of our slippers approached the esteemed choreographer and asked him to sign both his slippers and he graciously agreed.
As the shoes have been worn, the elastic is stretched, and the toes and soles are somewhat scuffed; the blue ink signatures are a bit light. Contained in their original Capezio box which is in very good condition. Rare and desirable.