George Balanchine, a Russian immigrant who worked with Diaghilev in Paris in the 1920s, was a seminal figure in creating a uniquely “American” ballet tradition from the 1930s through the 1980s. During the Cold War decades following World War II, the image of America as an asylum resonated around the globe, and renowned performers flocked to the United States, drawn by the unshackled creative possibilities offered by a democratic society. Such remarkable dancers as Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov harnessed the American spirit’s exuberant potential and sparked a surging popularity for ballet here.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
October 4, 2013 through July 13, 2014