John Taras


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(b New York, 18 Apr. 1919; d 2 Apr. 2004)

US dancer, choreographer, and ballet master. He began dancing as a child in a Ukrainian folk dance ensemble in New York and took up ballet in 1936 in his late teens. He studied with Fokine, then with Vilzak, Schollar, Anderson-Ivantzova, and at the School of American Ballet before performing with Ballet Caravan (1940), Catherine Littlefield's Philadelphia Ballet (1939–41), and Ballet Theatre (1942–6), where he was soloist, choreographer, and ballet master. He left Ballet Theatre in order to pursue a career as a choreographer and worked with many companies in that capacity, including the Markova-Dolin Ballet in Chicago (1946), de Basil's Original Ballet Russe (1946), Ballet Society (1947), Metropolitan Ballet (1948), San Francisco Ballet (1948), and Les Ballets des Champs-Elysées (1949). From 1948 to 1953 he was principal choreographer and ballet master with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. From 1959 he was ballet master of New York City Ballet, and his association with the company continued until Balanchine's death in 1983. During this period he additionally worked as ballet master of the Paris Opera (1969–70) and ballet director at the Berlin Opera Ballet (1971–2). Following his departure from New York City Ballet, he became associate director of American Ballet Theatre in 1984. He later staged Balanchine's ballets for companies around the world. A list of his own ballets includes Graziana (mus. Mozart, Ballet Theatre, 1945), Camille (mus. Schubert, arr. Rieti, Original Ballet Russe, 1946), The Minotaur (mus. E. Carter, Ballet Society, 1947), Designs with Strings (also Design for Strings, mus. Tchaikovsky, Metropolitan Ballet, 1948), Piège de lumière (mus. J. M. Damase, de Cuevas, 1952), Le Fôret romantique (mus. Glazunov, Monte Carlo Opera, 1957), Ebony Concerto (mus. Stravinsky, New York City Ballet, 1960), Arcade (mus. Stravinsky, New York City Ballet, 1963), Jeux (mus. Debussy, New York City Ballet, 1966), Concerto for Piano and Winds (mus. Stravinsky, New York City Ballet, 1972), Le Sacre du printemps (mus. Stravinsky, La Scala, Milan, 1972 or 1973), Daphnis and Chloe (mus. Ravel, New York City Ballet, 1975), Souvenir de Florence (mus. Tchaikovsky, New York City Ballet, 1981), Firebird (mus. Stravinsky, Dance Theatre of Harlem, 1982), Francesca da Rimini (mus. Tchaikovsky, American Ballet Theatre, Miami, 1986), and Trio (mus. Tchaikovsky, Pittsburgh Ballet, 1991).

Subjects: Dance.

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