George Balanchine (pictured here with Suzanne Farrell) had a mischievous sense of humor that came out at unusual times. Toasting Stravinsky he reminisced, "In Russia, we drink the health of the guy that died." When Balanchine was presented with the Handel Medallion he said, "I can't Handel it. . .so I'll Haydn it."
When Balanchine and Richard Rodgers embarked on the ballet "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," the composer was unsure how the collaboration should proceed. "Did he devise his steps first and expect me to alter tempos wherever necessary?" The choreographer immediately set Rodgers's mind at ease. "You write it, I put on," he said. That was exactly the way they worked. "I don't think that our arranger, Hans Spialek, had to change more than thirty-two bars," Rodgers wrote. The result was a masterpiece.
My favorite Balanchine line: "I disagree with everybody, and I don't want to argue about it." -- DL