Grassi, Amata

Dates:
Active 1878
Active 1971

Biographical notes:

Amata Grassi was born in New York on June 1, 1894. Originally named Anna Beatrice Koch she chose her stage name after her mother, Caroline Grasse (1837-1917). Amata Grassi began her dancing career with Anna Pavlova in 1917. In the following year, while touring in Buenos Aires, she met her future first husband, Chester Hale (Chamberlin). Soon after they left the famous dancer to form their own company. She also danced with the Adolph Bolm Ballet Intime and the Chicago Opera Co., toured in vaudeville, musical comedy and concert. In 1928 she was a premier dancer of Paul Whiteman’s Rio Romance . During World War II she was company manager of a Major Bowes unit that made a USO tour of Army camps. She was married to Chester Hale from September 1918 until May 1931. Around the mid-1940s she remarried, to Walter Hussen. After she ended her career as a dancer she began working at the Sheraton Hotel, and started to raise French poodles. In 1950 she is reported to have been an assistant at the hotel’s payroll department. Sources: · Amata Grassi Papers, An inventory of her papers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Retrieved November 2, 2005 from http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/rjd/findingaids/AGrassib.html · Chicago Sunday Times, Thursday June 22, 1950, section two-2

From the guide to the Amata B. Grassi papers, 1878-1971, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Amata Grassi was born Amy Beatrice Koch on June 1, 1894. She used the stage name Amata Grassi when she went on to become a professional dancer. As a dancer, she was a member of the Chester Hale Girls and she also served with the U.S.O. during World War II. Grassi married Chester Hale around 1919, and their marriage lasted until 1931. Grassi married her second husband, Walter E.M. Husen, around 1945. She died in the 1970s.

From the description of Amata Grassi papers, 1881-1975. (University of Illinois-Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 58465119

American dancer, Amata Grassi (b. 1894), was active in the worlds of ballet and theatrical dance in the United States from around 1917 through the late 1930s.

Originally named Anna Beatrice Koch, she chose her stage name after her mother's maiden name, Caroline Grasse. One of Grassi's earliest documented professional engagements was with the Anna Pavlova Company in 1917. In the following year, while in Buenos Aires, she met her future first husband, Chester Hale (Chamberlin). The two married that same year and the couple soon left the famous dancer's troupe, Hale going on to become a successful choreographer on the vaudeville circuit and in Hollywood. Grassi's dancing career is fairly emblematic of the period. Like the Cecchetti-trained Hale, Grassi had few employment options as a ballet dancer in the United States. During the early 1920s, she was based in Chicago where she performed with Adolf Bolm's Ballet Intime and the Chicago Opera Ballet. More typical of her career during the late 1920s and early 1930s were appearances (often in the guise of a "Spanish" dancer) in the elaborate musical Prologs that alternated with feature film presentations in large movie theaters in major American cities. For example, in 1928 Grassi was a featured dancer in the Paul Whiteman revue, Rio Romance, in which she toured extensively, and in 1929 she worked as a teacher at the Chester Hale School and as ballet mistress for the Loew's Valencia Theatre in Jamaica, New York. During World War II she was company manager of a Major Bowes unit that made a USO tour of Army camps. Grassi divorced Hale in 1931 and some time during the mid-1940s she married Walter Hussen. After she ended her career as a dancer, she raised French poodles and began working at the Sheraton Hotel, where, according to a 1950 newspaper account, she was an assistant in the payroll department. Grassi is believed to have died in the 1970s.

From the description of Amata B. Grassi papers, 1878-1971. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 79427313

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Subjects:

  • Women dancers--20th century
  • Dance--United States--20th century
  • Ballet dancers--United States--20th century
  • Women dancers--United States--20th century
  • Ballet dancers--20th century
  • Dancers--Biography--Sources
  • Dance--20th century

Occupations:

  • Ballet dancers

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)