Page, Ruth (1899–1991)

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Page, Ruth (1899–1991)

American dancer and choreographer. Name variations: Ruth Fisher. Born on March 22, 1899, in Indianapolis, Indiana; died in Chicago, Illinois, on August 15, 1991; daughter of Lafayette Page (a brain surgeon) and Marian (Heinly) Page (a professional pianist); attended Tudor Hall School, a private school in Indianapolis, and the French School in New York City; studied ballet with Anna Pavlova, Adolph Bolm, and Enrico Cecchetti; married Thomas Hart Fisher (a Chicago lawyer), in 1925.

Ruth Page grew up in a distinguished household. Her father Lafayette Page, a brain surgeon, helped establish the children's wing of the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital; her mother Marian Page , a pianist, helped found the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Their house was often the meeting place for composers, writers, dancers, and artists. One such was Anna Pavlova , who, impressed with the talents of 15-year-old Ruth, urged Marian to let the girl accompany her group on a one-year South American tour.

Ruth made her Chicago debut in 1919, creating the lead role in The Birthday of the Infanta. With her teacher and partner Adolph Bolm, she went on several tours with his American ballet company, Ballet Intime. From 1921 to 1923, she was première danseuse in Irving Berlin's Broadway hit Music Box Revue. The following year, she joined the experimental Chicago Allied Arts, as prima ballerina, where she was allowed to choreograph; her first efforts were The Flapper and the Quarterback and Oak Street Beach. From 1926 to 1928, she was guest soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City before forming her own company, with a partner and two other female dancers, to tour Japan and Russia. In 1933, Page created La Guiablesse for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which featured Katherine Dunham .

During the years 1934–37, 1942–43, and 1945, Ruth Page was première danseuse and ballet director of the Chicago Opera Company, where she choreographed Hear Ye! Hear Ye!, with music by Aaron Copland, An American Pattern, with music by Jerome Moross, and a revival of her ballet of Ravel's Bolero, which she toured. In 1938, she founded the Page-Stone Ballet company with Bentley Stone. Their production of Frankie and Johnny ran longer than any other ballet in Chicago's history. She was the first choreographer to turn a full-length opera into a full-length ballet, remaking Carmen into Guns and Castanets in 1939. Though the Page-Stone partnership disbanded in 1941, she restaged three of their works for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Frankie and Johnny (1945), The Bells (1946), and Billy Sunday (1948). In 1956, in connection with the Chicago Lyric Opera, Page organized the Chicago Opera ballet, subsequently renamed Ruth Page's International Ballet in 1966, and remained its director for a number of years. In 1970, she founded the Ruth Page School of Dance, which, as of the year 2000, had over 300 students.

suggested reading:

Martin, John. Ruth Page: An Intimate Biography. NY: Marcel Dekker, 1977.

Page, Ruth. Page by Page. Brooklyn, NY: Dance Horizons, 1978.