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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Brilliant Balanchine

The great choreographer was, to his credit, reactionary on gender and much else.

George Balanchine
Russian-born American choreographer George Balanchine (1904 - 1983), 24th August 1965. (Photo by Rowntree/Express/Getty Images)

Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century, Jennifer Homans, Random House, 784 pages.

Could it be that traditional gender roles will only survive on the ballet stage? True, the people who make and oversee dance in America today—the artistic directors, choreographers, designers, costumers, and dancers—are among the most woke people on the planet, as are those in the audience. Yet in an age increasingly defined by androgyny, gender-fluidity, and other challenges to nature, the ballet stage is a place where the femaleness of females and the maleness of males is accentuated.