Georgian Surnames

George Balanchivadze (Balanchine)


George Melitonovich Balanchivadze, is born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 22, 1904.

Father - Meliton Antonovich Balanchivadze - the famous Georgian composer and public benefactor, one of the founders of Georgian opera, was born in Georgia on January 5, 1863. He remained in Russia for 28 years. In 1889 Meliton studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, under Rimsky-Korsakov. First World War broke out, Meliton Balanchivadze moved to Georgia. Meliton Balanchivadze dies on December 21, 1937

Brother - Andria Balanchivadze - the famous composer and musician.

In 1913 George Balanchivadze enrolls in the Imperial Theater Ballet School in St. Petersburg. In 1921 he graduates with honors from the Petrograd Theater Ballet School and becomes a dancer at the State Theater of Opera and Ballet.

In 1924 Balanchivadze joins a touring troupe, Principal Dancers of the Soviet State Ballet, with dancers Tamara Geva and Alexandra Danilova, among others. While performing in Germany, the troupe decides not to return to the Soviet Union. After an engagement in London, they travel to Paris to audition for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Diaghilev hires them and changes Balanchivadze’s name to George Balanchine. Balanchine choreographs ballets for a number of companies in Paris, London, Copenhagen, and Monte Carlo, including the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo.

In 1933 Lincoln Kirstein meets Balanchine at a cocktail party in London and invites him to the United States to establish an American ballet school and company. Balanchine arrives in New York on October 17.

Balanchine and Kirstein establish the American Ballet, the American Ballet Caravan and the New York City Ballet

In 1939 Balanchine becomes a United States citizen.

Balanchine dies in New York City on April 30, 1983

Today, Meliton and Andrea Balanchivadze are acknowledged as the classics of  Georgian composing school, and George, to be that of American Ballet.