Here’s an historic oddity: an American ballet about an American theme. It’s danced by an American dancer in an American company. Now this is getting tedious — it has a score by an American composer. It’s Eugene Loring‘s “Billy the Kid,” to a score by Aaron Copeland.
Yes, yes, we now live in a different world, but honestly, don’t you wish you could see more of this?
This great set of Herbert Migdoll photos lives in the archive of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Tom Mossbrucker, seen in the lead role Billy and now the co-director, along with Jean-Philippe Malaty, of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, remembers this:
“It was one of the highlights of my career to perform in such a masterwork. I remember performing it in an ancient outdoor amphitheater in Granada, Spain. I was there alone on the stage under the stars and moonlight and I could hear dogs howling in the distance. It was thrilling.
“The piece is not a solo. But there was a section where Billy is alone, in the prairie, hiding out! The image of the hand in front of the face is meant to convey hiding in the brush. I used to love that.”
Mr. Migdoll is now the Graphics Director at the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (sets, photography, graphics). Just love these photos, sir.
Loring’s significant Los Angeles history includes running the go-to ballet school of the 1950s on Hollywood Boulevard, and helping to establish the dance department at UC Irvine.
To give a little context, in 1938, the year Loring made “Billy,” George Balanchine was in Los Angeles, having just choreographed “The Goldwyn Follies,” on Vera Zorina soon to be his wife. And Earl Carroll was building his groovy revolving stage cabaret.
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