Catherine Littlefield


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(b Philadelphia, 1905 (some sources say 1908); d Chicago, 19 Nov. 1951)

US dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, and pioneering force in American ballet. She studied with her mother, Caroline Littlefield, later with Albertieri in New York and with Staats and Egorova in Paris, making her debut on Broadway in 1921. From 1926 she appeared in local performances of the Grand Opera Company and in 1934 formed her own Catherine Littlefield Ballet Company, which two years later became the Philadelphia Ballet (the first ballet company of exclusively US dancers). Here she was dancer and choreographer, creating Barn Dance (trad. US music, 1937), and also staging the first US full-length production of Sleeping Beauty (1937). The company performed in Europe in 1937, and from 1939 until it was disbanded in 1942 (due to the war) was the resident ballet company of Chicago Civic Opera. During the 1940s she choreographed for Broadway musicals and made pioneering contributions to the artistry of ice dance, choreographing notably for Sonja Henje's revues (1942–8). She continued to teach, and her pupils included D. Krupska, Z. Solov, and E. Caton.

Subjects: Dance.

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