Olga's Gallery

Zinaida Serebriakova

Portrait of Gheorghi Balanchivadze (George Balanchin) Dressed as Bacchus.

1922. Tempera and gouache. 59 x 44 cm. The Theater Museum of A. A. Bakhrushin, Moscow, Russia. Read Note.

Zinaida Serebriakova. Portrait of Gheorghi Balanchivadze (George Balanchin) Dressed as Bacchus.

George Balanchine (1904-1983) - a prolific ballet choreographer and dancer, considered extremely influential in bringing the ballet tradition to the US. He was born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Georgia, then part of the Russian Empire. His father was Meliton Balanchivadze, a Georgian composer and opera singer. He studied at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg from the age of just nine.

After the Soviet regime began its repression of the arts in the 1920s, Balanchivadze fled to Paris, where he frenchified his name to “George Balanchine”. He found work as a choreographer with the world-famous Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. It was at around this time that Serebriakova painted her portrait of him.

In 1934, Balanchine moved to the US, where he founded the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet company. Some of the ballets that the choreographer helped the company put on are still performed to this day, and are among the best-known and most critically-acclaimed ballet productions of all time. They include The Nutcracker, Serenade and Stars and Stripes.

In addition to his fame as a choreographer and producer, Balanchine is rather more scandalously known for his marriages and affairs, predominantly with the dancers who worked under him. He was married a total of 5 times; except his last marriage, none of these lasted more than a few years. Balanchine also had few qualms about using his position to sabotage the careers of ballerinas who rejected his advances