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Brief Notes on the Repertory

Paris Productions: Vaudeville and Operetta

1927 Le Théâtre de la Chauve-Souris
Nikita Balieff’s Franco-Russian vaudeville was a great success in Paris, London, and New York during the 1920s. The 1927 edition featured three solo dances by Tamara Geva, two of which were choreographed by Balanchine. They were the first Balanchine choreography seen by Lincoln Kirstein and the first Balanchine works performed in America.
1928 Le Théâtre de la Chauve-Souris
The maître de chorégraphie for this edition of Balieff’s Bat Theatre of Moscow was billed as “G. Bulanchin.”  The dance tableaux were set to music by Charles Laurent, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy.
1931 Orphée aux Enfers
This production of Offenbach’s 1874 comic opera had a gala opening on Christmas Eve 1931. The dancing ensemble, billed as “Les Ballets Russes de Georges Balanchine,” was led by Felia Doubrovska and Anatole Vilzak.

London Productions: Revues, Variety Shows, and Film

1929 Charles B. Cochran’s 1929 Revue
After a long run in London, this revue, entitled Wake Up and Dream!, was brought to New York, where it opened on 30 December 1929. Tilly Losch was the star of a number choreographed by Balanchine to Cole Porter’s sultry song “What Is This Thing Called Love?”
1929 Dark Red Roses
This film was one of the earliest feature-length talking motion pictures made in England. Balanchine choreographed a pas de trois and danced it with Lydia Lopokova and Anton Dolin. They heard of Diaghilev’s death during filming.
1930 Charles B. Cochran’s 1930 Revue
Among the various dance scenes was a ballet called “Luna Park, or The Freaks,” with  a book by Boris Kochno and music by Lord Berners. Alice Nikitina danced The One-Legged Woman, and Serge Lifar danced The Six-Armed Man.
1931 Sir Oswald Stoll’s Variety Shows
The dancing ensemble of sixteen women was variously billed as “The Balanchine Ballet,” “Balanchine’s Girls,” “Balanchine’s Sixteen Novelty Dancers,” “George Balanchine’s Sixteen Delightful Dancers,” and “16 Delightful Balanchine Girls 16.”
1931 Charles B. Cochran’s 1931 Revue
The large cast of “Scaramouche: An Impression of the Commedia dell’Arte” included John Mills as Harlequin and Bobby Clark as a sailor, backed up by Mr. Cochran’s Young Ladies and The John Tiller Girls.

Broadway Shows: Revues, Book Musicals, and Operettas

1936 Ziegfeld Follies of 1936
Harriet Hoctor was the dancing star, but it was Balanchine’s sensual choreography for Josephine Baker, just returned from her triumphs in Paris, that caught everyone’s eye.
1936 On Your Toes
Balanchine’s first big-time Broadway show, written by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, and George Abbott, with music and lyrics by Rodgers and Hart. “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” danced by Ray Bolger and Tamara Geva, became its most famous number.
1937 Babes in Arms
Another Rodgers and Hart show, remembered today primarily for the spectacular jazz tap dancing of the Nicholas Brothers and for “Peter’s Journey,” considered to be the first dream ballet on Broadway.
1938 I Married an Angel
Rodgers and Hart again, starring Vera Zorina in her Broadway debut. Its biggest number was “At the Roxy Music Hall,” danced by the entire cast. It featured Vivienne Segal and Audrey Christie as exuberant Rockettes, Zorina as a graceful naiad, and Walter Slezak as an ungainly sea monster.
1938 The Boys from Syracuse
Balanchine’s fourth show with Rodgers and Hart was based on Shakespeare’s play The Comedy of Errors. Eddie Albert and Jimmy Savo were the stars, with Heidi Vosseler and George Church as featured dancers.
1938 Great Lady
Led by André Eglevsky, Leda Anchutina, and Annabelle Lyon, the dancing ensemble included two young dancers making their Broadway debuts: Alicia Alonso and Jerome Robbins. The score was the first full Broadway score by Frederick Loewe.
1940 Keep Off the Grass
A musical revue starring Jimmy Durante, Ray Bolger, Jane Froman, and Ilka Chase, with Betty Bruce, Larry Adler, Virginia O’Brien, Sunnie O’Dea, and Jackie Gleason, and featuring José Limón, Daphne Vane, Margery Moore, and Dodson’s Monkeys.
1940 Louisiana Purchase
With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and with Vera Zorina, William Gaxton, and Victor Moore in leading roles, this show was a big hit, running for 444 performances on Broadway and going on a national tour. It was made into a movie in 1941, with Zorina and Bob Hope.
1940 Cabin in the Sky
Ethel Waters was the star of an all-black cast, which included Katherine Dunham and the Dunham Dancers. Balanchine staged the entire production and collaborated with Dunham on the choreography for her company. The score by Vernon Duke had lyrics by John Latouche.
1942 The Lady Comes Across
Despite the collaboration of Vernon Duke and John Latouche, this show was a dismal flop. Ray Bolger and Jessie Matthews, the original stars, resigned their roles before the show opened in New York. It closed after only three performances on Broadway.
1942 Rosalinda
In the fourth Broadway revival of Die Fledermaus since 1900, Dorothy Sarnoff played Rosalinda, and Shelley Winters had a supporting role. Mary Ellen Moylan and José Limón, the dancing stars, were replaced during the long run of more than five hundred performances by Elise Rieman and William Dollar.
1943 The Merry Widow
A new musical version of Franz Lehár’s perennially popular operetta, with English lyrics. Jan Kiepura and Marta Eggerth were the singing stars, and Lubov Roudenko, Milada Mladova, Chris Volkoff, and James Starbuck were featured dancers.
1943 What’s Up
This show was the first public collaboration of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Among the dance numbers were two dream ballets, and among the featured players was a girl billed as Marjorie Beecher, later to become famous as Marge Champion.
1944 Dream with Music
Clay Warnick based his music on themes from numerous classical composers; Edward Eager supplied the lyrics; and Vera Zorina headed a huge cast of actors, singers, and dancers. Balanchine did the choreography for all the numbers except the tap routines, which were staged by Henry Le Tang.
1944 Song of Norway
The first of more than nine hundred performances took place in Los Angeles. The original dancing ensemble was the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with Alexandra Danilova, Frederic Franklin, Nathalie Krassovska, Leon Danielian, Maria Tallchief, Ruthanna Boris, Alexander Goudovitch, Mary Ellen Moylan, and many other dancers who would become well known.
1945 Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston
The pretext of the show is a visit to Boston by Johann Strauss in 1872. The music by Robert Stolz was based on Strauss waltzes, polkas, galops, and marches. Harold Lang, Barbara Heath, and Helen Gallagher led the dancers.
1947 The Chocolate Soldier
This operetta by Oscar Straus, with a libretto based on Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, was first presented in New York in 1909. The large cast of the 1947 production featured Billy Gilbert as Popoff, the comic lead, and Mary Ellen Moylan and Francisco Moncion as principal dancers.

1948 Where’s Charley?
A blockbuster hit, starring Ray Bolger as Charley and Allyn Ann McLerie as Amy, with a book by George Abbott and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. Bolger’s rendition of “Once in Love with Amy” was so infectious that it was eventually performed as an audience sing-along.
1951 Courtin' Time
Set in Maine and based on Down East folklore, this show featured a square dance, a hoedown, a softshoe number, and a ballet called "Johnny and the Puckwudgies," danced by Peter Conlow, Gloria Patrice, and the ensemble.
1951 House of Flowers
Written by Truman Capote and Harold Arlen, this show became notorious during rehearsals and tryouts for disagreements between its creators and its producer. Balanchine withdrew before the New York opening, and Herbert Ross revised the choreography.

Hollywood Films

1938 The Goldwyn Follies
A United Artists Production. Balanchine directed the filming of the choreography for his first Hollywood work. Vernon Duke wrote the music for the “Romeo and Juliet Ballet” and for the “Water Nymph Ballet,” in which Vera Zorina rises out of a pool before beginning to dance. Balanchine also created a ballet to George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, but Sam Goldwyn rejected it.
1939 On Your Toes
A Warner Brothers Production, starring Vera Zorina and Eddie Albert. The film is a close adaptation of the stage play of 1936. Balanchine again directed the filming of the dance sequences.
1940 I Was an Adventuress
A Twentieth Century–Fox Production, starring Vera Zorina as an international spy. The dance scene, set to music from Swan Lake, act 2, was filmed using elaborate camera techniques developed with Balanchine’s collaboration.
1942 Star Spangled Rhythm
A Paramount Pictures Production. This patriotic film revue, with a large cast of Hollywood stars, was made to entertain military personnel on active duty during World War II. Vera Zorina, appearing as herself, dances a solo choroegraphed by Balanchine to "That Old Black Magic," sung by Johnny Johnston.
1944 Follow the Boys
A Universal Studios Production. Made for USO distribution, this film starred George Raft and Vera Zorina in a thin story designed to introduce an array of Hollywood singers and dancers. Raft and Zorina dance a beguine choreographed by Balanchine.


1942 The Ballet of the Elephants
Set to music by Igor Stravinsky, this “original choreographic tour de force” for “fifty elephants and fifty beautiful girls” was created for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In the first performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Vera Zorina rode the lead elephant. She, the girls, and the elephants all wore fluffy tutus designed by Norman Bel Geddes and Miles White.

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