Overview

John Butler

(1918—1993)


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(b Greenwood, Miss., 29 Sept. 1918; d New York, 11 Sept. 1993)

US dancer, choreographer, and director. He studied at the Graham School and at the School of American Ballet before dancing with the Martha Graham company (1945–55) and appearing in musicals and on television. In 1944 he appeared on Broadway dancing the lead role of Dream Curly in Agnes de Mille's Oklahoma! ballet. He founded his own company in 1955 (later renamed American Dance Theater), which toured Europe until it disbanded in 1961. He was one of the first dancemakers to marry classical ballet and modern dance and as well as creating works for his own company he choreographed for Broadway, New York City Opera, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Batsheva Dance Company, Harkness Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Paris Opera Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. His works include The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore (1956), created for Menotti and later taken into the repertoire of New York City Ballet, Carmina Burana (1959) for New York City Opera and revived for over 30 other companies, After Eden (mus. Lee Hoiby, 1967), for the Harkness Ballet, and Portrait of Billie, choreographed for Carmen de Lavallade and himself for the Newport Jazz Festival (1960) and taken into the repertoire of the Ailey company in 1974. At the Spoleto Festival in 1975 he choreographed Medea for Fracci and Baryshnikov, the first new work created for the Russian following his defection to the West and revived for ABT (1976). He was dance director for Menotti's annual Spoleto festival, and choreographed Menotti's television opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, in 1951. He also choreographed for television and for ice shows. A noted teacher, he counted Lar Lubovitch and Glen Tetley among his pupils.

Subjects: Dance.


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