Happy birthday Ruth Page!

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Ruth Page (22 March 1899 – 7 April 1991) was an American ballerina and choreographer who rose to international prominence after establishing herself as a formidable dancer in Chicago. She made her professional debut on Broadway and danced with Anna Pavlova in South America, then settled in Chicago as the lead dancer of the Ravinia Opera. Page founded the Chicago Opera Ballet and later opened the Ruth Page Foundation for Dance, dedicated to fostering young talent in the performing arts. It is now known as the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

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As a young dancer in New York, Page studied under the famed Russian dancer and choreographer Adolph Bolm, once a collaborator in Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Page toured South America with Anna Pavlova, and then joined Bolm's Ballet Intime. In 1919, Page danced the lead role in Birthday of the Infanta, choreographed by Bolm. The pair also appeared in an experimental dance film in 1922, Danse Macabre, directed by Dudley Murphy. 

'Danse Macabre' (1922) with Ruth Page and Adolph Bolm

 

 

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After a Broadway debut, Page returned to Chicago as the principal dancer in Adolph Bolm's Allied Arts Ballet. She would go on to become the principal dancer and choreographer for the Ravinia Opera Company, and direct several ballets of her own. At the height of her fame, Ruth danced for Emperor Hirohito of Japan at his coronation, and performed in the Soviet Union. During her honeymoon, she danced with Diaghilev's company, and Balanchine is said to have created his first works for an American, specifically for Page: "Etude" and "Polka."

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Bolero at Ravinia (HIghland Park, IL), 1928

In 1934, she completed choreography for "Hear Ye, Hear Ye," a ballet about a murder trial, scored by Aaron Copland. She is perhaps most remembered for creating the choreography for "Frankie and Johnny," which has since been revived many times by many dance companies.

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"Federal Ballet" at the Great Northern Theatre. Frankie and Johnny. (Choreography by Ruth Page and Bentley Stone). Federal Theatre Project.

In addition to choreographing several of Vladmir Rosing's state centennial performances, including "The Kansas Story" (1961). Her global success led to the Chicago Opera Ballet to be known as Ruth Page's International Ballet. Within this company, she first staged an elaborate production of "The Nutcracker" that remains an annual event in Chicago. After she retired, she established the Ruth Page Foundation, which became the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, an ongoing school dedicated to performance arts. Her biography, Page by Page, was published in 1978.

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Ruth Page (left) and Harald Kreutzberg in Bacchanale, Chicago, c. 1934.

Ruth Page Foundation 40th Anniversary performance

 

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 22 March 2014
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