George Balanchine archive
- Majority of material found within 1961-1983
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Extent63.3 linear feet (114 boxes, 1 volume, 2 framed items (in framed storage) and 61 videotapes)
Series I: Balanchine's business and most of his personal correspondence was conducted on his behalf by company managers and his personal assistants, very few letters are signed by him personally. It encompasses a broad range of matters: from requests of employment and recommendations for dancers, choreographers and musicians to negotiations of terms of engagements for his services as choreographer for a number of European companies; from discussing touring arrangements for himself and the New York City Ballet to giving permissions for other companies to perform his ballets; from fund raising and grant proposals to outlines of national campaigns in support of dance companies and dance education throughout the U.S. As the popularity of the New York City Ballet grew, more and more universities, publishers, magazines, scholars, writers, composers, as well as dance professionals all over the world approached Balanchine for his opinion and support of their projects.
Series II: Dance notations of Balanchine's ballets were created by notators of the Dance Notation Bureau (New York, N.Y.) and the Benesh Institute of Choreology Ltd. in London, with the approvals of George Balanchine, in an effort to create records from which ballet could be taught and recreated. Notation scores were drafted during rehearsals and performances; in this archive they are supplemented with music scores with extensive notes.
Series III: As a young man, Balanchine studied music as well as dance. For a while, he was choosing between a career of a professional musician and a dancer. Throughout his life, he continued to study music, play piano and compose music. This series, Music scores, contains scores of some of his songs and drafts of piano reductions of compositions by other composers. It also contains music scores for several of his ballets and Broadway musicals, which he choreographed in the 1940s.
Series IV: This series of Collected compositions contains predominantly compositions for ballet, but also several scenarios of Broadway plays, and a few essays. None of the compositions are by Balanchine; several are stories for his ballets, or his unrealized projects.
Series V: Contracts in this series reflect the growing demand for Balanchine's ballets in America and all over the world. From the late 1960s, the New York City Ballet began to issue both contracts to every company requesting permission to perform ballets by Balanchine, and licensing agreements for repetiteurs of his ballets. After his death in 1983, agreements were issued first by the George Balanchine Foundation, and then by the George Balanchine Trust .
Series VI: Financial records is another example of the inseparability of Balanchine's personal and professional lives. The series contains a mixture of records for his business and personal expenses, records of medical and property insurances, pension plans, and extensive paperwork for tax returns for Balanchine and his wife, Tanaquil Le Clercq.
Series VII: Photographs in this series contain photographs of Balanchine and of the New York City Ballet dancers, but the majority of them are of other dancers and companies. Most of the photographs came from the closed Ziegfeld Book Shop in New York. It is not clear what was the relationship between the shop and Balanchine, and why the photographs came with his archive.
Series VIII: Very few programs in this series represent the New York City Ballet. Most of the programs are of other American and foreign companies.
Series IX: Clippings in this series were kept in their original order and state. Most of them concern the New City Ballet dancers and George Balanchine. Clippings found with the correspondence files were not moved to this series, but kept with the letters.
Series X: The periodicals series contains magazines on dance and other cultural matters.
Series XI: Audiovisual material includes master tapes of the program Balanchine essays filmed by the Tatge/Lasseur Productions company in 1986. This tapes provide visual discussion of Balanchine technique by prominent dancers and teachers of the New York City Ballet. Also included are two short audio programs on Balanchine and dance history.
Series XII: Biographical material in this series includes: personal documents included in the archive; correspondence on various matters concerning his career such as invitations to receive awards, give lectures, or serve on various committees; biographical essays and entries for several encyclopedias; his autograph notes on dance and choreography; awards and honorary degrees; and documentation regarding his funeral and memorial services. It also includes a few objects.
Biographical / Historical
- I. Correspondence
- II. Dance notations
- III. Music scores
- IV. Collected compositions
- V. Contracts
- VI. Financial records
- VII. Photographs
- VIII. Souvenir programs
- IX. Clippings
- X. Periodicals
- XI. Audiovisual material
- XII. Biographical material
- Xlll. Additions to collection
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Balanchine, George. George Balanchine archive, 1924-1989 (MS Thr 411): Guide.
- Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Description rules
- Language of description
- In English.
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA