George Skibine


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(orig. Yuril Borisovich Skibin; b Yasnaya Poliana, Ukraine, 20 Jan. 1920; d Dallas, Tex., 14 Jun. 1981)

Russian-US dancer, choreographer, and ballet director. The son of Boris Skibine, a dancer with Diaghilev's company, he studied with various teachers including Preobrajenska, Sedova, and Volinine. He made his debut as a can-can dancer at the Bal Tabarin night-club and as a classical dancer with Ballet de la Jeunesse in 1937. Throughout his career his romantic good looks and elegant style made him popular in roles such as Romeo and the Poet in Les Sylphides, as well as in the 19th-century classics, though he also created roles in many new works. As a young dancer he performed with several companies: (Denham's) Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1938–9), de Basil's Ballets Russes (1939–41), and American Ballet Theatre (1941–2), where he created the role of the Hermit in Massine's Aleko, partnering Markova. After military service he danced with the Markova-Dolin Ballet (1946) and Original Ballet Russe (1947), then from 1947 to 1956 he danced with Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas becoming étoile in 1959. Here he choreographed his first ballet, Tragédie à Vérone (mus. Tchaikovsky, 1950). His later works include Romeo and Juliet (mus. Berlioz, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, 1955), Daphnis and Chloe (mus. Ravel, Paris Opera, 1959), The Firebird (mus. Stravinsky, for French television, 1967, and for Dallas Civic Ballet, 1968), and Gloria (mus. Poulenc, Dallas Civic Ballet, 1974). After a brief period partnering his wife, Marjorie Tallchief, with Ruth Page's Chicago Ballet (1956–7 and again in 1959), he and Tallchief joined Paris Opera as danseurs étoiles. He was also choreographer there and ballet master between 1958 and 1962. In 1964 he became artistic director and choreographer of Harkness Ballet; from 1967 he worked as freelance choreographer in the US and Europe; and from 1969 he was artistic director of Dallas Civic Ballet and its school. He was made Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1967.

Subjects: Dance.

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