Loring, Eugene, 1914-

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American ballet dancer and teacher, Leon Danielian (1920-1997) enjoyed an especially varied career as a performer, but is best known for his long association with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Danielian was a native New Yorker of Armenian ancestry, who, with his sister Hercelia, studied ballet as a child with an influential teacher, Madame Seda. She later would send the Danielians to Mikhail Mordkin for additional training and both would join his troupe, the Mordkin Ballet, when it was formed in 1937 (Danielian’s sister appeared under the name, Hercelia Danielova). The Mordkin Ballet, which had been partly sponsored by Lucia Chase, was refashioned into Ballet Theatre in late 1939 and Leon became an original member of the company, performing in such pieces as the revival of Michel Fokine’s Carnaval, in which he appeared as the Harlequin. During this period, Danielian also would dance on Broadway, with Ballet Theatre, and Colonel Wassily de Basil’s Ballet Russe company, before joining Sergei Denham’s rival Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a principal dancer.

Danielian was active with the company from 1943 to 1961, appearing in a wide-ranging repertory, which displayed his versatility in both classical and character parts. Among his most constant and celebrated roles were the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty (generally performed as part of the excerpt, Aurora’s Wedding ), the comedic Peruvian tourist in Leonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne, and El Bonito in Antonia Cobos’ Madroños . Throughout his many years with the company, Danielian partnered all of its leading ballerinas, including Alexandra Danilova, Yvette Chauviré, and Nina Novak. Perhaps his most frequent partner, however, was fellow American, Ruthanna Boris, who also featured Danielian in her own original choreography, including Cirque de Deux (1947) and Quelques Fleurs (1948). Danielian toured extensively with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and also appeared as a guest artist and on tours with the San Francisco Ballet during the late 1950s and early 1960s, until worsening arthritis ended his performing career.

Following his retirement from the stage, Danielian taught ballet for nearly thirty years. He became co-director of the School of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in New York City for several years and served as director of the American Ballet Theatre School in that same city from 1967 to 1980. In 1983, Danielian succeeded Igor Youskevitch and joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught in the Department of Theatre and Dance until his retirement in 1991, later becoming a professor emeritus. In 1993, a dance studio and endowed scholarship at the University of Texas were named in his honor.

From the guide to the Leon Danielian papers, 1930-1994, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Eugene Loring was born LeRoy Kerpestein in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 2, 1911. Loring came to dance through theater. After graduating from high school in 1929, he worked with the Milwaukee Players during which time he began to study ballet and tap dancing. In the spring of 1934, he went to New York to study at the School of American Ballet. That summer, during the school's recess, Loring performed with the Fokine Ballet in Lewisohn Stadium. Loring performed with the American Ballet Company in Balanchine's works in its initial appearance in Hartford, Connecticut in December 1934.

Loring's first ballet “Harlequin for President” followed a libretto by Lincoln Kirstein and premiered in a Ballet Caravan performance at Bennington College on July 17, 1936. Loring's other works for Ballet Caravan include his well-known “Billy the Kid,” which premiered in Chicago on October 16, 1938, with Loring dancing the role of Billy.

“The Great American Goof” was created by Loring for Ballet Theatre's inaugural performance on January 11, 1940; it was a ballet with words based on a libretto by William Saroyan.

Loring worked with his own company Dance Players in 1941 and 1942 and choreographed three new works on the company. After his association with Dance Players, he became steadily involved in motion pictures and television. He was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios to a contract as dance director and actor and moved to Hollywood in 1943. Loring worked intermittently on Broadway shows in New York over the next decade, however, his work for ballet companies dwindled. He created no major work again until “Capital of the World” in 1953 for Ballet Theatre.

Loring's work in film began as a performer in a minor role in “National Velvet” in 1944. He went on to stage the dance sequences in more than a dozen films from 1944 to 1960, including “Ziegfeld Follies,” “Meet Me in Las Vegas,” “Funny Face,” and “Silk Stockings.”

His American School of Dance was founded in Hollywood in 1948 and provided a comprehensive program in dance, covering a stylistic range from classical ballet to modern and character dance. It was here that Loring developed his “Freestyle” technique, which attempted to synthesize several forms of movement in order to develop versatile dancers and enable them to adapt to the many styles required of them professionally. Loring sold the school in 1974.

In 1965 Loring became the first chairman of the new dance program at the University of California at Irvine. He patterned the program after the one he had developed at the American School of Dance. He retired from the University in 1981 and moved to Accord, New York.

Eugene Loring died on August 30, 1982, in Kingston, New York.

From the guide to the Eugene Loring papers, circa 1938-1981, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Biography

Born on August 2, 1914 as Le Roy Kerpestein in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Eugene Loring studied gymnastics, music, acting and performing as a young man with the Wisconsin Players. He also studied dance to improve his movement qualities as an actor. He decided in his early twenties to pursue dance full time.

Loring was admitted in 1934 to the American School of Ballet, founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. They chose a group of students, including Loring, to perform as the American Ballet Company. This company also performed divertissement ballets choreographed by Balanchine for the Metropolitan Opera. During this time Loring also danced in the corps de ballet and as a soloist with the Fokine Ballet.

When the American Ballet and Metropolitan Opera seasons ended each year, a group of dancers including Loring joined Lincoln Kirstein's independent company Ballet Caravan. Instead of following classical ballet traditions, dancers choreographed pieces about life in America. The group shared equally in all decision making. Ballet Caravan spent spring and summer caravaning to small towns across America to perform in small venues. At summer's end they returned to New York for the American Ballet and Metropolitan Opera seasons.

Eugene Loring's first original ballet was Harlequin for President . While a dancer/choreographer with Ballet Caravan, he choreographed Billy the Kid at the suggestion of Lincoln Kirstein, collaborating with Aaron Copland, who composed the musical score. Billy the Kid became Loring's most famous piece and is in the permanent repertoire of American Ballet Theatre. The Australian Ballet and the Oakland Ballet also have performed Billy as part of their repertoire.

Loring choreographed The Great American Goof, a ballet-play with spoken words (libretto by William Saroyan), for Ballet Theatre in 1940. The work was a compilation of dance, music, speech, and sliding stage screens. In the same year, Loring appeared on Broadway as an actor in Saroyan's The Beautiful People .

Loring created his own dance company named Dance Players in 1941, which continued in the same vein as Ballet Caravan. He choreographed Man From Midian and Prairie and the company performed Billy the Kid, along with many of his earlier works such as Yankee Clipper and Harlequin for President . The company disbanded in 1942, but Loring reused the name later for other student dance companies.

In 1943 Loring was contracted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to work as a dance director and actor in films. It was a productive period for Loring as he choreographed dance sequences for the films Ziegfeld Follies, Funny Face, and Silk Stockings, as well as several Broadway shows, including Carmen Jones, Kismet, Park Avenue, and Silk Stockings . Loring also choreographed extensively for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera.

Loring founded the American School of Dance (not affiliated with American School of Ballet) in Hollywood in 1947. The school remained in existence for over 25 years from the time Loring first arrived in California until a few years before his death. His goal for the school was to give students training in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, composition and notation. Loring developed his own dance technique at this time which was known as the "Free-Style Technique," combining ballet and jazz. Its purpose was to allow students to make easily the technique changes that were required of them professionally. The school had a sizable faculty roster and actively advertised guest teachers and lecturers. In the 1950s the school was home to the 15-member, semi-professional dance troupe Dance Players, led by Loring. The company gave over 300 performances to high schools, colleges and civic groups.

Loring was invited to the White House in 1962 to present Billy the Kid . He was awarded Dance Magazine's Annual Award in 1968. One year later, he was the founding director of the Los Angeles Dance Players. At the same time, he developed his lecture series "Dance As a Language." Loring's goal was to educate the audience about dance in a way that paired narrative with dance. During the same year, he received a creative writing grant from the University of California to write Kineseography, about his form of dance notation. Loring worked with the Oakland Ballet in 1976 to stage Billy the Kid, and in 1978 he re-staged a ballet titled The Sisters, which had originally premiered with the San Diego Ballet in 1966.

Loring's careers as a choreographer and teacher intertwined for three decades before he became the founding chairman of University of California, Irvine's Dance Department in 1965. He developed an instructional program for the department with a focus similar to his American School of Dance. Examinations for technique classes were adjudicated like professional auditions, and students had different teachers for technique each day. The department's goal was to prepare students for professional jobs immediately after graduation. Loring used his position as an opportunity to mount new works that were not financially possible using a professional dance company.

Eugene Loring died in Kingston, New York on August 30, 1982.

Chronology

Refer to the Choreology for dates of Loring's choreographic activities and works.

  • 1914: Born Le Roy Kerpestein in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 2nd.
  • 1934: Professional stage debut with Michel Fokine.
  • 1934: Danced in Corps de Ballet and as a soloist with one year of concentrated ballet training.
  • 1934: Performed in Sorcerer's Apprentice and Prince Igor.
  • 1935 - 1938 : Dancer in Corps de Ballet, then soloist for Balanchine and Kirstein's American Ballet.
  • 1935: Danced in his first professional productions as Photographer in Alma Mater and as Brighella in Reminiscence.
  • 1936: Joined Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan as a soloist and choreographer (through 1939).
  • 1936: Danced Harlequin in his own Harlequin for President and Satyr in Promenade (choreographed by William Dollar) for Ballet Caravan (Bennington, Vermont).
  • 1937: Danced Farm Boy in his own Yankee Clipper and Saltarello in Folk Dance (Saybrook, Connecticut).
  • 1938: Danced Ray, a Truck Driver in Filling Station (choreographed by Lew Christensen) for Ballet Caravan (Hartford, Connecticut).
  • 1938: Danced title role in his own Billy the Kid for Ballet Caravan (Chicago).
  • 1940: Danced title roles in his own The Great American Goof and in Peter and the Wolf.
  • 1940: Danced Devil in Three Virgins and a Devil for Ballet Theatre (New York).
  • 1940: Cast in Saroyan's The Beautiful People on Broadway.
  • 1941: Founder, choreographer, and principal dancer for Dance Players.
  • ca. 1942: Dance Players disbanded.
  • 1943: Signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and contracted to work as a dance director and actor.
  • 1945: Appeared in the film National Velvet.
  • 1948: Founder and teacher for the American School of Dance.
  • 1953: Appeared in the film Torch Song.
  • 1962: Directed Under the Sycamore Tree at the Pasadena Playhouse.
  • 1965: Became first chairman of the Dance Department at the University of California, Irvine.
  • 1965: Staged ballets for San Diego Ballet.
  • 1967: Recipient of Dance Magazine award.
  • 1980: Left UCI.
  • 1982: Died in Kingston, New York on August 30th.

Choreology

Includes major works choreographed by Loring and is not exhaustive.

  • 1934: First choreography credit for production of Credentials.
  • 1936: Harlequin for President (music by Scarlatti) for Ballet Caravan (Bennington, Vermont).
  • 1937: Yankee Clipper (music by Bowles) for Ballet Caravan (Saybrook, Connecticut).
  • 1937: Billy the Kid (music by Copland) for Ballet Caravan (Chicago).
  • 1939: City Portrait (music by Brant) for Ballet Caravan (New York).
  • 1940: The Great American Goof (music by Brant) for inaugural performance of Ballet Theatre, New York.
  • 1942: The Man From Midian (music by Wolpe), Prairie (music by Dello Joio), and The Duke of Sacramento (music by Dello Joio) for Dance Players.
  • 1943: Choreographed shows on Broadway.
  • 1953: Capital of the World (music by Antheil) and Omnibus for American television (also staged for American Ballet Theatre, New York).
  • 1954: The Legend of the Handsome Stranger (music by Johnson) for Santa Monica Ballet (California).
  • 1956: Worked as a choreographer in collaboration with Fred Astaire in Funny Face.
  • 1958: Choreographed for the Ice Capades.
  • 1961: A Portrait of a Woman and Quotations for Idyllwild Arts Foundation (California).
  • 1966: The Sisters (music by Ruggles) for San Diego Ballet and Jacob's Pillow Festival (Lee, Massachusetts).
  • 1966: These Three (music by Steinman) for Joffrey Ballet at the City Center (New York).
  • 1968: Prisms, Pinions, Paradox for University of California, Irvine (UCI).
  • 1969: Catulli Carmina (music by Orff) for UCI.
  • 1970: Polyphonica (music by Mendelsohn) for UCI.
  • 1971: Folk Dances of a Mythical Country (music by Allard, Loring, Beaver, Krause) for UCI.
  • 1973: Who Am I ? Where Do I Come From ? What Am I Doing Here? (music by Copland and Badings) for UCI.
  • 1976: The Voice (music by Crumb) for UCI.
  • 1978: Celebration for UCI.
  • 1978: The Tender Land (music by Copland) for Oakland Ballet (California).
  • 1979: American Gothic (music by Copland) for UCI.
  • 1980: Time Unto Time (music by Bartok) for Oakland Ballet (California).

From the guide to the Eugene Loring papers, 1925-1986, (bulk 1933-1979), (University of California, Irvine. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Eugene Loring papers, circa 1938-1981 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Stravinsky-Diaghilev Foundation research files, 1920-1989. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Eugene Loring papers, 1925-1986, (bulk 1933-1979) University of California, Irvine. Library. Department of Special Collections
creatorOf Leon Danielian papers, 1930-1994 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Ballet Caravan (Dance company) corporateBody
associatedWith American Ballet (Dance company) corporateBody
associatedWith American School of Dance (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Caravan (Dance company) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Boris, Ruthanna person
associatedWith Chase, Lucia, 1897-1986 person
associatedWith Chauviré, Yvette, 1917- person
associatedWith Clugston, H. N., former owner. person
associatedWith Dance Players (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Dance Players (Dance company) corporateBody
associatedWith Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997 person
associatedWith Danilova, Alexandra, 1907-1997 person
associatedWith Denham, Sergei, 1896-1970 person
associatedWith Eugene Loring person
associatedWith Fehl, Fred person
associatedWith Loring's person
associatedWith Los Angeles Dance Theatre (Dance company) corporateBody
associatedWith Maudlin, Mildred Ann, former owner. person
associatedWith Mordkin, Mikhail, 1881-1944 person
associatedWith Novak, Nina person
associatedWith Penn, Irving person
associatedWith San Francisco Ballet corporateBody
associatedWith Saroyan, William, 1908-1981 person
associatedWith Seawell, Wallace person
associatedWith Stravinsky-Diaghilev Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Suny, Seda person
associatedWith University of California, Irvine corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Irvine. Dance Dept corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Irvine. Dept. of Dance corporateBody
associatedWith Vollmar, Jocelyn person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Manuscripts--Collections
Ballet--United States--20th century
Dance--Archival resources
Occupation
Ballet dancers
Choreographer
Function

Person

Birth 1914

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