Mr B.: George Balanchine's Twentieth Century by Jennifer Homans ISBN:9781847087751

Mr B. by Jennifer Homans

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George Balanchine did for dance what Picasso did for painting: he changed the art and the way we see the human form. In this magisterial cultural history, Jennifer Homans follows Balanchine from his childhood in Tsarist St Petersburg, through the upheavals of the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, and the cultural Cold War, to New York, where he co-founded and ran the New York City Ballet.

His influences were myriad: he considered himself Georgian, yet did not visit his ancestral homeland until his fifties; he was deeply impressed by the grandeur and beauty of the Orthodox Church, but equally absorbed by the new rhythms coming out of Harlem in the 1930s. He was part of the Russian avant-garde and excited by surrealism and other artistic movements, collaborating broadly, with figures like Matisse, Diaghilev and Stravinsky. Above all, he was inspired by the young dancers he worked with, sculpting their bodies even as they reshaped his imagination, often to the point of romantic infatuation. Mr B. gathered around him successive generations of people who believed in his artistic vision as fervently as he did, and both the passions that animated him and the difficulties of his life – personal losses, bouts of ill health, and spiritual crises – resonate in his dances, which speak poignantly of love, loss and mortality.

With unprecedented access to his papers and those who knew him, Homans tells a story of love and exile; of colossal talent and the boundless energy it took to reimagine dance. This is an epic portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century.

From the author of Apollo’s Angels, the first major biography of the figure who modernised dance: an intimate portrait of the man behind the mythology, set against the vibrant backdrop of the century that shaped him

About the Author: Jennifer Homans is the dance critic for the New Yorker. Her widely acclaimed Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet was a bestseller and named one of the 10 best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. Trained in dance at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, she performed professionally with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She earned her BA at Columbia University and her PhD in modern European history at New York University, where she is a Scholar in Residence and the Founding Director of the Center for Ballet and the Arts.

04 Apr 2024

Additional information


Paperback / softback


Biography: general

Readership Level

General (US: Trade)



Publication Date

04 Apr 2024

Mr B.: George Balanchine’s Twentieth Century by Jennifer Homans ISBN 9781847087751

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