George Balanchine, a Russian born in 1904 who adopted the United States in the 1930s, remade ballet to conform to his ideal of leggy American womanhood. Since his death in 1983, the entire field has seemed a little wobbly. Ballet is an unnatural act; like espaliered trees, its practitioners are trained daily for a decade to build strength and assume aesthetically pleasing shapes. Those who fell into the orbit of genius choreographer Balanchine traded the trappings of normal life—domesticity, children, leisure time—for the exhilaration of being the instruments on which he developed his technique and his great neoclassical repertory. Maria Tallchief, an Oklahoma native who is half Osage Indian and half Scotch-Irish, became an international star under his tutelage, and the fourth... More >>>