Joan Keener
October 29, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW reviews two George Balanchine bios

Two decades since George Balanchine’s death, the creator of the New York City Ballet and the work (1946’s The Four Temperaments) that TIME hailed as the greatest dance of the 20th century remains a giant in his field. Two compact biographies should reignite interest in his legacy. Longtime NYCB associate Robert Gottlieb’s Ballet Maker, the more satisfying of the two, paints a superb portrait of the aloof, polite, deeply romantic Russian native who composed scores of now-canonical works ”without apparent hitch or hesitation.” Lively and opinionated but more cursory as biography, Terry Teachout’s All in the Dances ardently examines his ballets as modern art, persuasively ranking Balanchine alongside Henri Matisse and Igor Stravinsky in innovation and achievement. Maker: A; Dances: B+

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