Catherine Littlefield: A Life in Dance
While she is best remembered today as founder of the Philadelphia Ballet and the director and driving force behind the famous Littlefield School of Ballet, from which Balanchine drew the nucleus for his School of American Ballet, Catherine Littlefield (1905-51) and her oeuvre were in many ways emblematic of the full representation of dance throughout entertainments of the first half of the 20th century. From her early work as a teenager dancing for Florenz Ziegfeld to her later work in choreographing extravagant ice skating shows, a remarkable dance with 90 bicyclists for the 1940 World's Fair, and on television as resident choreographer for The Jimmy Durante Show, Littlefield was amongst the first choreographers to bring concert dance to broader venues, and her legacy lives on today in her enduring influence on generations of American ballet dancers.
As the first biography of Littlefield, Catherine Littlefield: A Life in Dance traces her life in full from birth through childhood experiences dancing on the Academy of Music's grand stage, and from her foundation of the groundbreaking Philadelphia Ballet Company in 1935 to her later work in television and beyond. Littlefield counted among her many glamorous friends and colleagues writer Zelda Fitzgerald, conductor Leopold Stokowski, and composer Kurt Weill. This biography also provides an engrossing portrait of the remarkable Littlefield family, many of whom were instrumental to Catherine's success. With the unflagging support of her generous husband and indomitable mother, Littlefield gave shape to the course of American ballet in the 20th century long before Balanchine arrived in the United States.
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