G eorge Balanchine left the Soviet Union in 1924, not to return until nearly 40 years later. By then he was the most influential choreographer in the Western world. He had been lured from a peripatetic career in Europe by arts patron Lincoln Kirstein in 1934 to co-found the School of American Ballet, from which one of the great dance companies of the world, New York City Ballet, would emerge. It became a permanent base for Balanchine’s...

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