To many dancers, Balanchine is a figure so imbued with history, he’s almost not real. He lives on through his 465 works, which we study in dance history classes, watch onstage, and—if we’re lucky—learn ourselves. He’s almost been stripped of humanity, raised up to such a high status that it’s easy to forget that he—in his own words—“pulled the toilet chain for the same reason you do.” Toni Bentley, and her latest book, Serenade, are here to remind us.
New York City Ballet in “Serenade” by George Balanchine. Photograph by Steven Caras