What was America’s first professional touring ballet company and in what city was it founded? If you guessed New York City, you are wrong. The Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet, officially launched in 1916 in Chicago, was the first professional touring ballet company. Thirteen-year-old Jean Marie Kaley (aka Anna Ludmilla), shown in the photograph taken by James Wallace Pondelicek in 1919 and published in a Chicago newspaper, was the principal ballerina.

Welcome to my website on the history of the classical ballet evolution in America from the late 1800s to the time George Balanchine immigrated to New York City and officially founded New York City Ballet (NYCB) in 1948. This blog answers questions such as: why the first professional touring company was established in Chicago rather than Philadelphia or New York City; why two immigrants from Russia, former dancers in Anna Pavlova’s touring company, decided to live in Chicago and start a school and company; and why the classical ballet evolution and the new Modern Dance movement were rivals.

Stay in touch to become informed. I look forward to your visits and comments.

Author: cynthiacrainauthor

Cynthia D. Crain is a dance writer and education consultant primarily in the area of dance history. She has a doctorate in education, curriculum development, emphasis in movement and dance therapy; an M.A. in Dance, emphasis in dance research; and a B.A. in Education, emphasis in dance, with a minor in music. Crain owned a dance school in Texas. Her dance experience (partial listing) includes teaching in, and performing with, private studios in Texas, Virginia and Georgia. Her university teaching and performing experience includes Adjunct Professor and Research Associate, therapeutic recreation and dance; and Instructor in dance in both the physical education and performing arts departments at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. Her dance training (partial list) with notable teachers includes Richard Gibson, San Francisco Ballet; Bob Spaur, Ruth Page’s company in Chicago; Frano Jelencic, English National Ballet (formerly London Festival Ballet); and Anna Ludmilla—Anton Dolin’s partner, and co-founder of National Ballet of Panama, and Margot Fonteyn’s coach. Crain has three published biographies. A forthcoming book is the Autobiography of Robert Barnett. She has published books and articles in the field of dance and movement therapy. Crain is a dance writer and education consultant. She is a member of the Dance Studies Association (formerly the Society of Dance History Scholars, which recently merged with the Congress on Research in Dance); Biographers International Organization (BIO); and National Dance Education Organization. She serves as a trustee on the Atlanta Ballet board. In addition, she is on the Education Committee of The Atlanta Ballet, Centre for Dance Education.

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