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Dancing under the stars!
Dance played an important role in the Hollywood Bowl's early years. Pioneer choreographers like Ernest Belcher, Ruth St. Denis & Ted Shawn, and Norma Gould created original works for the Bowl during the 1920s and 30s. Later, touring companies like the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Martha Graham Dance Company, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, the Moiseyev Dance Company, and the Joffrey Ballet performed at the Bowl.
Dance pioneers, many of whom were rejecting the restrictions of ballet and searching for freer and more expressive forms of movement, saw Los Angeles as a utopian place to create and teach. The Hollywood Bowl provided a venue to showcase new work and a place for dancers to develop. Young dancers who performed at the Bowl with choreographer Ernest Belcher included Maria Tallchief (the great Balanchine ballerina), actress/dancers Gwen Verdon, Cyd Charisse, Nanette Fabray, Rita Hayworth, and Belcher's daughter Marge Champion and her husband Gower Champion.
The air was cool at night. I stretched out my arms in the moonlight and flew. I raced and raced in the cool night expanse, on the largest stage in the world. Around me the mountains ribbed the sky. Under my feet lay the beat of a full symphony orchestra.— Agnes De Mille, dancer and choreographer
Major international dance companies introduced world cultures to Bowl audiences as early as the late 1930s, when the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo first brought Russian classical ballet to the Bowl. In 1967, at the height of the Cold War, impresario Sol Hurok brought a festival of Russian Music and Dance to the Bowl that included both ballet (the Bolshoi) and folk dance (groups from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) and had lines of ticket buyers stretching from the box office all the way down Peppertree Lane. Baryshnikov danced at the Bowl in 1979 with the New York City Ballet. With the great interest in world music that began to grow in the 1990s, dance from India, China, Mexico, Brazil, West Africa, and many more has been presented on the Bowl stage.
Modern Dance Pioneer Choreographers (selected list)
1922 Ernest Belcher: Carmen
1926 Theodore Kosloff: Scheherazade
1927 Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn: Orpheus
1928 Serge Oukrainsky: Ballets Divertissements
1929 Norma Gould: Schubert Symphony No. 8
1930 Albertina Rasch: Suite Choriographic
1931 Adolph Bolm: The Spirit of the Factory
1935 Benjamin Zemach: The Victory Ball
1935 Agnes de Mille: Dance of Excitement
1935 Fanchon & Marco: Prometheus
1935 Francesca Braggioti: Sumurun
1937 Michio Ito: Etenraku
1937 Lester Horton: Le Sacre du printemps with Bella Lewitzky
1940 Nijinska Ballet: Boléro
1941 Adolph Bolm: The Firebird with Stravinsky conducting
Dance Companies from Throughout the World (selected list)
1939 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1939-1951)
1943 Russian Ballet Theatre
1944 Katharine Dunham Company
1953 José Greco Dance Company
1954 Ruth St. Denis Dance Company
1955 Martha Graham Dance Company
1962 Ballet Folklórico de México
1966 Bolshoi Ballet
1967 Russian Festival of Music and Dance: Ukrainian Dance Company, Azerbaijan Dance Company, Georgian State Dance Company and Bolshoi Ballet
1969 Royal Ballet featuring Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev
1979 New York City Ballet featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Peter Martins
1997 San Francisco Ballet
1998 Hartford Ballet
2002 Pacific Northwest Ballet
2004 Joffrey Ballet
2005 Moiseyev Dance Company
2005 Paul Taylor Dance Company
2006 Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
2007 Diavolo Dance Company
Video: Dance at the Bowl
The 1933 film footage of the Francesca Braggiotti Dancers came back to the Hollywood Bowl via Ms. Braggiotti''s biographer, Thomas DeLong. Ms. Braggiotti, the beautiful long-haired lead dancer in this footage, also appeared in the 1934 Max Reinhardt production of A Midsummer Night''s Dream, where she met her future husband, aspiring actor John Lodge, who eventually became governor of Massachusetts.The video also includes glimpses of the Norma Gould Dancers, the Albertina Rasch Dancers, Russian ballet and folk dancers, the Joffrey and Diavolo dance companies, and a group of stunning photographs of Noche Flamenca. There is film footage of the great Native American ballerina, Maria Tallchief, dancing with Frederick Franklin on the 1958 Colgate Comedy Hour, a live television broadcast from the Hollywood Bowl. The video concludes with ballerinas from the North Carolina School of the Arts, who appeared to honor John Mauceri at the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Gala in 2007.
Video production by Shelley Baruch.