Magazine article Dance Magazine

Lincoln Kirstein

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Lincoln Kirstein

Article excerpt

Lincoln Kirstein, 88, the cofounder, with George Balanchine, of New York City Ballet, and a seminal figure in the development of the arts in twentieth-century America, died of natural causes at his home in New York City on January 5, 1996.

The Harvard-educated Kirstein was a latter-day Renaissance man--a poet, novelist, art collector, and critic--whose taste was honed through sojourns in Europe and exposure to Many of the major arts movements of the twenties and thirties. Particularly impressed by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Kirstein became enamored of ballet early in his life. He especially admired the work of the young Balanchine and, after Diaghilev's death and the dissolution of Ballets Russes, Kirstein invited the choreographer to come to the United States and establish a ballet school and company. The School of American Ballet was thus founded in 1934, along with a troupe called the American Ballet in 1935 and, a year later, its offshoot, Ballet Caravan, established to provide opportunities for young American choreographers. The most notable works produced from this project were Lew Christensen's Filling Station and Eugene Loring's Billy the Kid.

After military service in World War II, Kirstein founded Ballet Society with Balanchine in 1946. When this successful company was invited to become resident at New York's City Center in 1948, it changed its name to New York City Ballet.

Admittedly biased toward the classical aesthetic, Kirstein had little use for modem dance. …

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