Books: Elite Corps

"BUT FIRST A SCHOOL"

The School of American Ballet had its start in 1933 with a legendary exchange between George Balanchine, then 28 and a Russian émigré choreographer living by his wits, and Lincoln Kirstein, two years his junior and a rich American aesthete with billowing ambitions to further the arts in his country. He invited Balanchine to start a ballet troupe in the U.S. The choreographer replied, "But first a school." As always, Mr. B. was right; a company like the New York City Ballet could not exist with the sketchy training that was available here.

Today S.A.B. is in effect the national academy...

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