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Thursday, 27 October 2016


Georgian roots of American ballet

12.09.2012  |  17:29

Georgian roots of American ballet. 28232.jpeg

Lyalya Balanchivadze, nee Valentina Kraynyaya, is Rector of children's charity intellectual academy "World of Art - to Children", honored teacher of Georgia, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, the holder of the Order of Honor of Georgia. Uncle of her first husband was a world famous choreographer George Balanchivadze. He is rightly called the founder of modern American ballet. In an interview with our author she told what man George Balanchivadze was.


- Tell us how Georgia took you?

- Very cordially. I have received an excellent education. Perhaps, my fate succeeded better than the fate of my sisters who have remained in Ukraine. I am grateful to the Georgian soil for the warm welcome. In college, I met my husband Amiran Balanchine, the son of a famous Georgian composer Andrew Balanchivadze, the grandson of the composer Meliton Balanchivadze.

- How your spouse's family took you?

- Family of my husband was very intelligent. My father in law, Andrew Balanchivadze, was awarded the Stalin Prize for twenty years as the head of the Composers' Union of Georgia. His brother, the world-famous choreographer George Balanchivadze, is considered the founder of modern American ballet. Perhaps, I was considered no match for Amiran, but we loved each other so much, that we were ready to defend and protect our feelings.

- Were you happy in marriage?

- Those years, we lived together, were heavy and happy at the same time. The fact is that my husband, like many men of the family of Balanchivadze, had tuberculosis. When I married him, Amiran had active tuberculosis and tuberculosis of bones, he was a little lame. Subsequently, he underwent lung resection. Apparently, because of this his family was not sure if I could manage this and take care of husband properly. I loved him, but after eight years our marriage fell apart. You won't believe: after I married for the second time, I loved my first husband for 10 years! Alas, Amiran passed away prematurely.

- Did you meet with Amiran's uncle, George Balanchivadze, when he came to Tbilisi?

- We met a few times. Unfortunately, we have no joint photograph. My impression of Balanchivadze is extremely positive. Like my husband, he had tuberculosis in his youth, but, despite this, worked hard. In the West, if a man is talanted, they exploit him to the end. Endless performances, rehearsals and concerts have undermined already fragile health of George Balanchivadze.

- What man he was in communication?

- He seemed humble, cultured and reserved person. At the same time, he was charming, sociable, a little enthusiast. Internally he was rather closed, never allowed people to become too close, even his relatives. Always "dancing", easy, George Balanchivadze never walked in the ordinary sense of the word, he rather flew. Having lived abroad for many years, he has acquired unearthly luster and appearance of the foreigner. Despite his age, he was beautiful, perhaps even fragile, if I can say this about a man.

- Did he consider himself a Georgian or an American?

- I cannot say that he looked like a Georgian, but in soul ... I remember his words about himself: "I was dancing because I was born a dancer. I am Georgian, and we all dance ..." I know that George was a deeply religious man: coming to Georgia, he always visited our churches. Moreover, I do know that George Balanchivadze was buried in American soil with the Georgian icon on the chest.

- And was his departure perceived as a betrayal of relatives?

- No, this is untrue. I know that the theater was home for him, and the troupe was his family. I perceived Balanchivadze as a man from another world. Leaving the country, George was very young. He was only 20 years old. Accordingly, as a man and as a professional, as a creative person, he established himself in the West.

- What do you know about his private life?

- I remember how he asked his nephew, my husband" "You have only one wife?" George was officially married four times. All of his wives were ballerinas. He called them "Muses", and himself - Apollo, turning each of them into an extraordinary, incredibly beautiful creature. Officially, his wives were Tamara Geva (Zheverzheyeva), Vera Zorina, Maria Tollchif and Tanaquil Le Clercq. In addition, he had one common-law wife - Alexandra Danilova.

His last wife, Tanaquil Le Clercq, was paralyzed after being infected with polio. George was very touching caring for her, took a sabbatical and spent all his time at the bedside of his wife. Balanchivadze had no children.

- Has he left an inheritance?

- George Balanchivadze has left almost no money: the choreographer spent all means on his favorite women and the "children" - the artists of his ballet troupe. I know that he left Andrew a couple of golden watches, and gave all his ballets to eighteen beloved women. All ballets - this is 425 his works. It is a huge legacy. An average man may know two or three names ("Apollo", "Crystal Palace" and, perhaps, "The Prodigal Son"), and professionals - a few dozen.


Natalia Sakhno


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