Balanchine and Me


Martins, Peter


Peter Martins was the Ballet Master in Chief of New York City Ballet for 35 years, the only person to preside over the company as long as its founder, George Balanchine. Born in Denmark, Martins began his association with NYCB in 1967, when he was invited to dance the title role in George Balanchine’s Apollo during the company’s appearance at the Edinburgh Festival. He then performed as a guest artist for three years before joining the company as a principal dancer in 1970. Prior to his retirement from dancing in 1983, Martins performed a wide variety of roles and was lauded for his outstanding partnering skills and noble stage presence. In 1981, Martins was named Ballet Master, a title he shared with Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and John Taras. From 1983 to 1989, he served as Co-Ballet Master in Chief with Robbins, running day-to-day operations. He assumed sole directorship of the company in 1990 and was also Chairman of the Faculty of the School of American Ballet, NYCB’s official school. In 2000, founded the New York Choreographic Institute.
Martins began his career as a choreographer in 1977. He has created nearly 90 ballets set to music by composers as diverse as Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Wynton Marsalis, and John Adams. His full-length productions for New York City Ballet include The Sleeping Beauty (1991), Swan Lake (1999), Romeo + Juliet (2007), and La Sylphide (2015). Martins’ autobiography, Far From Denmark, was published in 1982. Among other awards, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark made him a Knight of Dannebrog, a Knight of the First Order, and, in 2013, a Commander of the Knights of Dannebrog, Denmark’s highest civilian honor. In 2008, the French government made him a Commander in the Order of Arts and Letter. That same year, Martins was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Hall of Fame, in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1904, George Balanchine was the 20th century’s towering figure of classical ballet. Coming to America in 1933, Balanchine founded the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet, where he hired the Danish-born Peter Martins as a dancer and, later, as a choreographer. Balanchine and Me is dedicated to Martins’ profound artistic relationship with George Balanchine, who taught him a new, freer style of dance, and ultimately entrusted Martins with the future of the New York City Ballet, which Martins went on to lead for 35 years. This proved to be an inspired choice as Martins led the company to new heights, strengthened it financially, and initiated many innovative new programs. Peter Martins’ insights and anecdotes of working closely with Balanchine are historically important and often highly dramatic. Balanchine and Me is an indispensable resource to anyone interested in dance and the cultural universe of New York City.

Fine Arts, History, Social Science, Dance, Ballet, George Balanchine, Peter Martins, New York, American Culture, Russian Culture
Release Date: 
March 12, 2024
9781680536263 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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