(b Rochester, NY, 4 May 1907; d New York, 5 Jan. 1996)
US director, writer, and patron who helped shape the course of 20th-century American ballet. He was educated at Harvard University and, developing a keen interest in ballet, used some of his personal wealth to bring Balanchine to America with the promise of his own company and school. In 1934 the two men co-founded (with E. M. M. Warburg) the School of American Ballet of which Kirstein was president until 1989. In 1935 they co-founded the American Ballet and in 1936 Ballet Caravan which Kirstein directed until 1941. In 1946 he was co-founder and secretary of Ballet Society, becoming general director of its successor, New York City Ballet, from 1948 to 1989. He also founded the Dance Archives of New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1940, was founder and editor of the series Dance Index (New York, 1942–8), and the sponsor of Japanese theatre tours to the US, including the Grand Kabuki (1960). He was ghostwriter of part of Romola Nijinsky's biography of Nijinsky (1932–3) and was sole author of many other books including Dance (New York, 1935), Blast at Ballet, a Corrective for the American Audience (New York, 1938), Movement and Metaphor (New York, 1970), The New York City Ballet (New York, 1972), and Nijinsky Dancing (New York, 1975). In 1987 he was awarded the Handel Medallion.