George Balanchine was born the 22 January 1904 in St. Petersburg where he studied classical dance at the Imperial Ballet School as well as music at the conservatory. Still as a ballet student he created his first choreography: the pas de deux La Nuit (music: Anton Rubinstein). After his graduation in 1921 he was engaged for the corps de ballet at the State Academic Theatre for Opera and Ballet. While he was touring through Western Europe with three singers and three dancers in 1924, he met Sergej Diaghilew in Paris, who hired him to dance with his legendary Ballets Russes. Only one year later, Balanchine was promoted to chief choreographer of the company. It was here that he worked for the first time together with Igor Stravinsky who became a lifelong friend and collaborator. After Diaghilew died in 1929, Balanchine created different choreographic works for European companies until he was engaged as director of the School of American Ballet in 1934 by famous American ballet entrepreneur Lincoln Kirstein. Together they founded a new ballet company in 1946 – the Ballet Society – for which he choreographed numerous iconic new works. In 1948 Balanchine founded the New York City Ballet, which he directed until his death.