11 March 1818, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Date of Death
14 July 1910, Girzuf, Crimea
Maria Sourovshchikova (? - ?)
Considered the greatest ballet choreographer of the 19th century, and one of the greatest of all time. He choreographed the original productions of many ballets written by some of the world's greatest composers. ” - jgcorrea
28 April 1880, St. Petersburg, Russia
Date of Death
22 August 1942, New York City, New York, USA
Mikhail Fokin (Michel Fokine) was a Russian-American choreographer and dancer.
He was born Mikhail Mikhailovich Fokin on April 23, 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was the seventeenth of eighteen children, only 5 of whom grew to adulthood. His father, Mikhail Fokin, was a wealthy Russian merchant in St. Petersburg. His mother, Catherine, was a migrant from Germany. Fokin studied ballet from the age of 9 at the Ballet class of the Imperial Theatre School in St. Petersburg. Upon his graduation in 1898, Fokin was hired in the rank of soloist with the Imperial Russian Ballet at Mariinsky Theatre. He made his stage debut in 'Paquita' (1898), as a partner with the famous Anna Pavlova. He also resumed a teaching career at the girls junior class from 1902, becoming the youngest faculty member at the Imperial Ballet School.
Fokin became dissatisfied with the stagnant traditional choreography based on solo performances and dominated by hand gestures. A mere dancing to the background music was not for Fokin. His new ideas reformed the classic dance and expanded beyond the boundaries of traditional school. Fokin introduced changes to the dancer's movements, by upgrading the principles of mime, posture and gesture to "free movement" of the entire body of a dancer.
While his ideas were not accepted by the conservative management of the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, Fokin and his partner, Anna Pavlova, won attention of the Russian group of art connoisseurs known as 'Mir Iskusstva' (aka World of art), such as Prince Volkonsky, Alexandre Benois, and Sergei Diaghilev. Among Fokin's early works were the choreography for 'Chopiniana' (1903), later revised as 'Les Sylphides', ballet 'Acis and Galatea' (1905), and 'The Dying Swan' (1907), performed as a solo dance by Anna Pavlova.
Fokin was the first great choreographer who worked with Sergei Diaghilev for his "Ballets Russes" in Paris during 1909-1914. There he fully implemented his ideas of an ensemble dance with the grater interplay between the dancers and music. Even before his work with Sergei Diaghilev, Fokin brought innovations to the genre of classical ballet by creating a new format of "one-act ballet." However, for the "Ballets Russes" productions he made revisions and updates to his earlier ideas, such as 'Les Sylphides', premiered in 1909 at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.
His most significant works for Diaghilev's "Ballets Russes" were 'Firebird' (1909), starring his wife Vera Fokine, 'Carnival' (1909), starring Vaslav Nijinsky, and 'Petrushka' (1911) on the music of Igor Stravinsky. Fokin also choreographed 'Daphnis and Chloe' (1912) by Maurice Ravel, and 'Scheherazade' (1910) and 'Le coq d'or' (The Golden Cockerel, 1914) on the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Mikhail Fokin's mutually beneficial collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev came to an end in 1914. Fokin terminated their hectic relationship, because he was jealous of Diaghilev's close association with Vaslav Nijinsky. In 1914 Fokin returned to Russia and lived there until 1918. In 1919 he moved to New York and founded his own ballet school. During the 1930s, Fokin toured the world with the Covent Garden Russian Ballet, and created the ballet "Paganini" set to the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Fokin staged more than 70 ballets in many countries all over the world. His choreography survived through the commercialization of dance. His best known works were 'Chopiniana' (also known in a revised version as 'Les Sylphides'), 'Le Carnival' and 'Le Pavillion d'Armide'. Fokin's work with Sergei Diaghilev prepared ground for the era of the powerful innovator George Balanchine. He died on August 22, 1942.
Fokin's wife Vera Fokine continued teaching in Fokin's studio in New York. Fokin's choreographic miniatures are still performed by many ballet troupes across the world.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov ” - jgcorrea
22 January 1904, St. Petersburg, Russia
Date of Death
30 April 1983, New York City, New York, USA (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)
Georgy Melitonovich Balanchivadze
George Balanchine was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer with the "Ballets Russes" of Sergei Diaghilev, and became one of the foremost choreographers of the 20th century. He co-founded the School of American Ballet, and started the tradition of seasonal performances of "The Nutcracker" since 1954.
He was born Georgi Melitonovich Balanchivadze on January 22, 1904 into a family of Russian-Georgian heritage, in St. Petersburg, Russia. His father, 'Meliton Balanchivadze', was a noted Georgian composer. Young Balanchine studied piano from the age of 5 with his father. In 1913 Balanchin was admitted in the ballet class of the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg. In 1914 he made his stage debut with the Mariinsky Imperial Ballet as Cupid in "The Sleeping Beauty" ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In 1921 Balanchine graduated as a classic ballet dancer. He also studied piano and composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. From 1921-1924 he was a dancer with the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Petrograd (St. Petersburg).
In 1924 he emigrated from Russia together with his first wife, ballerina Tamara Geva. Balanchine was auditioned and hired as a dancer by impresario Sergei Diaghilev for his "Russian Ballet" in 1924. After having a knee injury, he quit dancing, and Sergei Diaghilev employed him as a choreographer. That job made Balanchine famous. From 1924 - 1929 he created nine major ballets as well as smaller choreography. He choreographed such ballets as "L'Enfant et les Sortileges" by Maurice Ravel, "Apollon Musagete" and "Le Chant du Rossignol" by Igor Stravinsky, in which he introduced then 14-year-old Alicia Markova.
After the death of Sergei Diaghilev, Balanchine had a few uncertain years. He played a cameo role as a dancer in Dark Red Roses (1930) with Lydia Lopokova, a former Diaghilev's ballerina. After a brief stint with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Balanchine moved to Monte Carlo. There, from 1930 - 1933, he choreographed three ballets for "Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo", starring Tamara Toumanova. at that time Balanchine also collaborated with Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil. In 1933, he formed "Les Ballets" with Boris Kochno, Diaghilev's last private secretary, and made performances in London. There, he was engaged by the young American impresario Lincoln Kirstein with an invitation to start a ballet company in New York.
Balanchine said "Yes. But first, a school", and came to New York in the end of 1933. There he co-founded The School of American Ballet which opened its doors on January 2, 1934. In 1935 he co-founded The American Ballet, which became the resident company of the Metropolitan Opera for a few years, until their separation from the Opera in 1938. Balanchine took his dancers to Hollywood. There he promoted his second wife Vera Zorina to several leading roles and worked as ballet choreographer in The Goldwyn Follies (1938), On Your Toes (1939), We Are Not Alone (1939), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) and The Cheers For The Boys (1944). In 1946, Balanchine and Kirstein founded the Ballet Society, renamed the "New York City Ballet" in 1948. It became the most innovative ballet company in the world. He choreographed the five-part "Dance in America" for PBS in 1977 and Momento de Decisão (1977).
For the Christmas of 1954, Balanchine staged "The Nutcracker" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and started the tradition of seasonal performances of this classic ballet. His choreography was re-created for the 1993 film version of The Nutcracker (1993). Balanchine and New York City Ballet made a home in the New York State Theater building at Lincoln Center, designed by Philip Johnson in 1964. The new home for Balanchine's ballet was commissioned and funded with the help of Lincoln Kirstein, who served as the general director of the Balanchine's ballet company from 1933 to 1989. Their work was documented from 1933-55 by photographer George Platt Lynes. Their friends and collaborators were Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky, Pavel Tchelitchev, Cecil Beaton, Alexandra Danilova, and many others.
Balanchine was married four times, all his wives were ballerinas; he also had common law relationships, but remained childless. He died in New York on April 30, 1983, and was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery, Sag Harbor, New York, USA.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov
Tanaquil Le Clerq (1952 - 1969) (divorced)
Maria Tallchief (1946 - 1952) (divorced)
Vera Zorina (December 1938 - 1946) (divorced)
Tamara Geva (1921 - 1926) (divorced)
Lighter costumes, faster movements, plotless ballet pieces. His dancers moved brilliantly.
Son of Georgian composer Meliton Balanchivadze. Brother of Georgian composer Andrei Balanchivadze.
Perhaps the most famous and celebrated ballet choreographer of the twentieth century.
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.
Choreographed more than 80 works with his NYCB company.
Co-founder of the New York City Ballet and The School of American Ballet.
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, who later played the Scarecrow in the 1939 film O Mágico de 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, even though it kept the ballet music.
Was the choreographer primarily responsible for making ballet more modern.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 32-35. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
"Ballet is Woman. In sports, it's Mickey Mantle. In politics, it's Eisenhower. In ballet, it's woman. Women are lighter, more flexible. They move more beautifully. He is not the King, but she's the Queen".
"Retire? You mean will I die?" ” - jgcorrea
17 September 1904, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Date of Death
18 August 1988, Eye, Sussex, England, UK
Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton
The founding father of British ballet, he developed the "English style" of classical dancing. He saw Anna Pavlova dance in 1917, which inspired him to a lifetime in ballet. He studied in London with Léonide Massine and Marie Rambert. He joined the Vic-Wells ballet, which later became the Royal Ballet of London, of which he eventually became director, succeeding Ninette de Valois during one of its greatest periods.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Crook
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1950 King's Honours List for his services to dance. He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1962 Queen's Honours List for his services to dance. He was awarded the Companion of Honour in the 1970 Queen's Honours List for his services to dance. He was awarded the Order of Merit in October 1977 in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to dance.
He was awarded the Legion of Honour in France in 1962 for his services to dance.
He was awarded the Commander of the Order of Dannebrog in 1963 by the Danish government for his services to dance. ” - jgcorrea
15 August 1927, Rustenberg, Transvaal, South Africa
Date of Death
26 June 1973 ” - jgcorrea
11 December 1929, Dunfermline, Scotland, UK
Date of Death
29 October 1992, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, England, UK (heart attack)
Deborah Williams (1972 - 29 October 1992) (his death) 1 child
He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1993 (1992 season) for Best Dance Production for the Royal Ballet's Production of his Judas Tree.
He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1993 (1992 season) for the Society of London Theatre's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Won Broadway's 1994 Tony Award as Best Choreographer posthumously for "Carousel."
He died of a heart attack, backstage, during the first night of the Royal Ballet's revival of "Mayerling" in the Royal Opera House on 29 October 1992. The announcement of his death was made on stage at the end of the ballet. ” - jgcorrea
29 November 1895, Los Angeles, California, USA
Date of Death
14 March 1976, Palm Springs, California, USA
William Berkeley Enos
5' 9" (1.75 m)
Busby Berkeley was one of the greatest choreographers in the U.S. movie musical. He started his career in the US Army in 1918, as a lieutenant in the artillery conducting and directing parades. After the cease fire he was ordered to stage camp shows for the soldiers. Back in the US he became stage actor and assistant director in smaller acting troops. After being forced to take over the direction of the musical "Holka-Polka" he discovered his talent for staging extravagant dance routines, and he beamed as one of the top Broadway dance directors. Producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. called him to direct the dance routines for his production "A Connecticut Yankee on King Arthur's Court". Eddie Cantor, who starred in the long running Ziegfeld production "Whoopee!" suggested Berkley create the dance routines in the film version, and Ziegfeld agreed. At first in Hollywood, he wasn't satisfied with the possibilities of his job - at the time, dance directors trained the dancers and staged the dances. The director chose the position for the cameras and the editor chose which of the takes were shown to the audience. Berkeley wanted to direct the dances himself and convinced the producer Samuel Goldwyn to let him try. One of the first chances he took was that he used only one camera in his films. He also showed close-ups of the chorus girls. Asked about this he explained: "Well, we've got all the beautiful girls in the picture, why not let the public see them?" With the decline of musicals in 1931 and 1932, he was thinking of returning to Broadway, when Darryl F. Zanuck, chief producer at Warner Brothers called him in to direct the musicals numbers of their newest project, the backstage drama Rua 42 (1933). Berkeley accepted and directed great numbers like "Shuffle Off To Buffalo", "Young and Healthy" and the grandiose story of urban life, the finale "42nd Street". The film was a smash hit, and Warner Brothers knew who made it such an extraordinary success: Berkeley, as well as the composer Harry Warren and the lyricist Al Dubin got seven year contracts. Berkeley created musical numbers for almost every great musical that Warner Brothers produced from 1933 to 1937. His overhead shots forced him to drill holes in the studio roofs, and he used more dancers with each succeeding picture. But with the second declining of the musical picture in 1938, he had nothing to do as a choreographer. He directed two non-musical pictures for Warner Brothers, then he went to MGM, where he choreographed the final number from Broadway Serenade (1939) with Jeanette MacDonald. As a director and choreographer, he worked on four pictures with the teenage stars Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. He also choreographed the "Fascinatin' Rhythm" finale for MGM's reigning tapping star, Eleanor Powell in Lady Be Good (1941). He directed Gene Kelly in his first picture, in For Me and My Gal (1942). Kelly, who choreographed his own numbers, learned a lot from Berkeley. He worked for 20th Century-Fox in The Gang's All Here (1940) with its surrealistic number "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat". At the end of the 40s, he directed his last picture, A Bela Ditadora (1949), but this time the choreography was directed by Gene Kelly. He did a few numbers in the early 50s but, by the end of the decade, he was all but forgotten. A revival of his films in the late 60s brought him some popularity and he was asked to return to Broadway and supervise the dance direction in the revival of a Vincent Youmans musical comedy from 1925. One of the actresses in this production was Ruby Keeler, one of his leading ladies in Warner musicals. When the production went on tour in 1972, one of the road cast was Eleanor Powell. The production was a smash hit. When he walked on stage after one opening night, the house exploded with applause. A strange fact is that Busby Berkeley never had a dancing lesson and, in his early days, he was very afraid of people finding out. He often drove his producers almost crazy when he gave orders to build a set and then sat in front of it for a few days, thinking up the numbers.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Stephan Eichenberg & A.Nonymous
Merna Kennedy (1934 - 1935) (divorced)
Esther Muir (November 1929 - 1931) (divorced)
Etta Judd (? - ?)
Claire James (? - ?)
Inspired the song "Busby Berkeley Dreams" by The Magnetic Fields.
Son of actress Gertrude Berkeley.
At age 12 he enrolled in the Mohegan Lake Military Academy near Peekskill. He graduated in 1914.
His parents were members of the Tim Frawley Repertory Company. His father was the director. He was named after two people in the Tim Frawley Repetory Company: Amy Busby (a young English soubret who later became prominent on the London stage) and William Gillette who went on to become a Broadway star, performing in a Sherlock Holmes play he had written.
In his early days, he worked for a shoe company in Athol, Massachusetts for three years. In his spare time he played semi-pro baseball, organized a dance band and played in local shows.
His brother George (ten years Busby's senior) graduated from Culver Military Academy where he was an accomplished athlete and captain of the Culver Black Horse Troop. Years later, as a result of drug abuse, George was found dead on a park bench in Plattsburgh, New York, U.S.A.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 23-28. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
On his way home from a party thrown by William Koenig to celebrate the completion of In Caliente (1935), Busby hit two vehicles, killing three people in the second car: William von Brieson, his mother, and sister-in-law. Tried for murder, Berkeley, represented by Jerry Giesler, was acquitted in a third trial after the previous two ended in hung juries.
He was not the first person who used the famous overhead shot, a shot that looks like you're looking through a kaleidescope, with the dancers in a circle(s) in interesting patterns. (i.e A minor example of this technique precedes his work in Dancing Lady (1933).) But he did make the grandiose, kaleidoscopic overhead-shooting of musical extravaganzas his own unmistakable artistic style by expanding the concept to its limits and then beyond affordability.
Ex-brother-in-law of Lois James.
In an era of breadlines, depression and wars, I tried to help people get away from all the misery...to turn their minds to something else. I wanted to make people happy, if only for an hour. ” - jgcorrea
25 November 1910, Southington, Connecticut, USA
Date of Death
8 May 1993, New York City, New York, USA
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1987 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C. ” - jgcorrea
10 December 1909, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Date of Death
19 September 1990, Beverly Hills, California, USA (stroke)
Academy Award-winning dance director responsible for choreographing several dozen of Hollywood's most truly memorable musicals, including every one of the nine Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers 1930s gems - not to mention Fred and Ginger's screen swan song, The Barkleys of Broadway (1949). He also choreographed some half-dozen of Betty Grable's musicals of the '40s and danced on screen with both Grable and Rita Hayworth.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Takacs
He was noted for his remarkable resemblance to Fred Astaire, and often served as a double during the planning of dance sequences for Astaire's films.
His given name Hermes may have come from the mythical Greek god, but his stage name Pan was simply an abbreviated form of Panagiotopoulos, which means All Saints [holiday, church, etc.]. Assuming that indeed had been his ancestors' family name back in Greece, it probably derived from a particular All Saints church or cathedral, with which the Panagiotopoulos family was connected in one way or another.
In the years he worked as a choreographer for Fred Astaire at RKO, Hermes always taught Ginger Rogers the dance steps well before she worked with her on-screen perfectionist partner. Hermes would first dance the Astaire part while Ginger slowly learned hers. Hermes resemblance to Astaire -- not only physically but as a dancer -- can be best seen in a specialty number he does with Rita Hayworth in the Fox film My Gal Sal (1942) a remarkable imitation of a Astaire and Rogers.
According to the DVD commentary for O Picolino (1935), he often dubbed 'Ginger Rogers'' taps for her films with Fred Astaire. He is rumored to have done so in high heels for authenticity. ” - jgcorrea