Sarah Crompton

Lord of the dance: the genius of George Balanchine 

Balanchine described himself as ‘a cloud in trousers’ – and Jennifer Homans perfectly captures the earthly man and his ethereal gift

Balanchine with Suzanne Farrell – wearing Van Cleef and Arpels jewellery – rehearsing for New York City Ballet’s production of Jewels, 1976 [Bridgeman Images]

Sex and dance were the twin themes of George Balanchine’s life. ‘I am a cloud in trousers,’ he said, using a phrase borrowed from the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Jennifer Homans quotes the sentence early in her biography of the man who co-founded New York City Ballet:

What this suggested, and it was a central theme of his life, was that he felt like a man with two bodies and he lived in them both simultaneously, with at times heartbreaking personal consequences.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in