This seminar looks at the life and works of George Balanchine, who has been compared to Shakespeare in the depth and scope of his work and ranked with Picasso and Stravinsky as one of the titans of twentieth century modern art. Balanchine’s fusion of so-called “fine” and “popular” art transformed the landscape of American dance by contributing fundamentally not only to the creation of American musical comedy and movies but the establishment of modern ballet in America. Balanchine’s interweaving of popular and classical forms will allow us to re-examine the separation of art into so-called “high” and “low” forms as well as the myths that have grown up around dance world dramatized in movies such as Center Stage and The Black Swan. Balanchine was an immigrant who, like so many of those who developed American art mingled influences from both the old and new world: European, African and American culture and jazz and classical art forms. Born and trained in Tsarist Russia, Balanchine participated as a teen-ager in the artistic ferment surrounding the Russian Revolution. Escaping from the newly established Soviet Union, he spent his very early adulthood in Paris and London working with artists like Picasso, Matisse, Ravel and Stravinsky in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Settling in New York during the Great Depression, and falling in love with his adopted country, Balanchine also became a vital force in American popular culture collaborating on Broadway and in the movies with George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and African American jazz dancers Josephine Baker and the Nicholas Brothers. At the same time he created a new and distinctively American ballet style and company (New York City Ballet) now at Lincoln Center. Balanchine’s influence extended to artists as diverse as Gene Kelly (Singin in the Rain) Jerome Robbins (West Side Story) Vincente Minnelli (An American in Paris) Maria Tallchief (the first native American ballerina) Arthur Mitchell (founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem), Mikhail Baryshnikov and as Gene Kelly once said “every American dancer living”.