Ballet Biopic on Choreographer George Balanchine in the Works

Gulfstream Pictures is developing a biopic on the early years of the influential ballet choreographer George Balanchine.

David K. Israel is adapting from Elizabeth Kendall’s book “Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer.” Producers are Gulfstream Pictures partners Mike Karz and Bill Bindley.

The book, published in 2013, focused on the friendship between Balanchine and his childhood friend Liidia (Lidochka) Ivanova from the years just before the 1917 Russian Revolution to Balanchine’s escape from Russia in 1924. Balanchine had been abandoned by his mother at the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet Academy in 1913 at the age of nine.

Ivanova died days before she and Balanchine had planned to leave Russia together. Zippora Karz, a ballerina chosen by Balanchine for the New York City Ballet, will be an executive producer.

Mike Karz told Variety that Zippora Karz, who now works for the George Balanchine Trust staging his choreography around the world, is his first cousin.

“When I read Elizabeth Kendall’s book, I felt compelled to bring this remarkable, untold story to the world,” Zippora Karz said. “Balanchine’s early life was bursting with love and passion, but also tragedy, and his story is the ultimate triumph of the human spirit over adversity. I am so looking forward to seeing that inspiration, love and desire captured in this movie.”

Israel has written music and libretto for ballets commissioned by Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. Random House published his novel “Behind Everyman” and he is currently developing one-hour dramas for television.

Kendall is also the author of “Autobiography of a Wardrobe,” “American Daughter: Discovering My Mother,” “The Runaway Bride: Hollywood Romantic Comedy of the 1930s” and “Where She Danced.”

Josie Rosen is overseeing for Gulfstream.

Gulfstream produced “The Nut Job” and is in post-production on the comedy “Mothers Day,” starring Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis. It’s also developing a “King David” project, based on Rabbi David Wolpe’s book “David: The Divided Heart.”

Israel is repped by CAA, Art/Work Entertainment and Jill Smith at Kleinberg Lange Cuddy and Carlo.

The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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