George Balanchine

George Balanchine is widely regarded as the most influential choreographer of the 20th century and cofounded two of ballet's most important institutions: New York City Ballet (NYCB) and the School of American Ballet (SAB). Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1904, Balanchine studied at the Imperial Ballet School and in 1924 left the Soviet Union for Europe, where he joined Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. After Diaghilev's death in 1929, Balanchine worked on a variety of projects before meeting American arts connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein, who persuaded him to come to the US. In 1934 they founded SAB, and in 1948, after creating several short-lived ballet companies, Balanchine and Kirstein formed NYCB where Balanchine served as Ballet Master until his death in 1983.