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Citizen Dane, Mr. B, and U.S. citizenship

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Last night, on C-SPAN's "Book TV." Robert MacNeil was talking about becoming a naturalized American citizen. The step was made easier for him because he was allowed to retain his Canadian citizenship. In contrast, he mentioned "my friend Peter Martins," who, though in the U.S. for many years, hasn't become a citizen because he'd have to renounce his allegiance to Denmark and vice versa.

This is in no way another invidious comparison of Martins to Balanchine, but it's always been my impression that Mr. B was a naturalized American citizen. Am I correct in this? I can't find any reference to it in Taper, Buckle, or anywhere else, although I'm fairly sure I read it somewhere. Of course in Balanchine's case, there was the matter of the Russian revolution which made moot the question of loyalty to his native land.

What about Erik Bruhn? Makarova? Baryshnikov?

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I'm sure that Baryshnikov is a U.S. citizen; I remember press reports about this. I'm sure Bruhn was not -- but Bruhn did not live here. He was truly an international person, always kept a house in Copenhagen and danced with the company for several months a year during his dancing days. He later directed the Swedish Ballet and National Ballet of Canada. I don't know about Makarova.

I'm fairly certain that Balanchine became a citizen -- but to be fair to any foreign national post-glasnost, he was, for all intents and purposes, a man without a country -- a Russian who left during the very early Soviet era.

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You are right about Baryshnikov being a U.S. citizen. A month ago my husband became an U.S. citizen and during the naturalization ceremony the judge listed famous naturalized Americans, Baryshnikov included included.

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if i remember correctly baryshnikov became a citizen in 1986, and it was tied in with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the statue of liberty; if i'm right he had become a citizen earlier in the day and appeared in a gala that night dancing with leslie browne? anybody?

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yes it was in the library:

Excerpt from the WABC telecast of the Liberty Weekend celebration on July 3, 1986 on Governor's Island in New York Harbor.

SUMMARY: Introduced by Helen Hayes, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, just sworn in as a United States citizen, dances a pas de deux from Who cares? with Leslie Browne of American Ballet Theatre. Choreography: George Balanchine. Music: George Gershwin.

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I'm fairly certain that Balanchine became a citizen

I have no specific reference to cite, but I recall reading (more than once) that Stars and Stripes was an homage to his new country, and, indeed, it's precisely the sort of overt gesture that relatively new citizens are wont to make (well, those new citizens who are as gifted as Balanchine, anyway).

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In Taper's biography there are several anecdotes about Balanchine's love for his adopted country — his feeling that in marrying Maria Tallchief he had somehow become an honorary Native American, his pleasure (!) in paying taxes to so great a country — but it doesn't specifically say that he was naturalized.

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According to an article I found that was written by Jennifer Dunning and that referred to patriotic celebrations after September 11, but which was on the net only in a cached version and no longer in its original one:


Tuesday November 20

Balanchine's All-American Dedication


"....Balanchine, who became an American citizen in 1939, seldom missed a chance to vote. "I think it meant a lot to him to vote, to have an opinion and be able to talk about it," Ms. Horgan said. "One thing that bothered him was that Americans didn't talk about politics at dinner. He liked to talk politics, to argue."


I hope this much of a quotation is all right, please delete or edit if necessary, Alexandra, thanks.

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I happened to be flipping through Buckle's biography of Balanchine tonight. He quotes a letter that Balanchine wrote to President Eisenhower in 1952 expressing his dislike of communism. I quote: "I have been a citizen for fourteen years now and I am convinced that you are the man to lead this country in its fight against communism." (p. 196)

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Thanks for finding this, Mark. It's an interesting letter, the point of which was to ask candidate Eisenhower to pay more attention to the arts. "I ask you to recognize the American artists in one of your speeches and to appeal to them and you will get a million votes!"

As Buckle says, Eisenhower's answer, if there was one, has not survived. But I don't recall any specific appeal to artists by Ike, and I suspect that most voted for Stevenson.

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