Catherine Littlefield (1905-1951)
Catherine Littlefield was the founder of the Philadelphia Ballet Company. The Littlefield family, dominated by "Mama" Caroline, started their training with their mother. Catherine had a sister Dorothy and brother Carl. They were all part of the company and school. According to Nancy Lynch, who studied at the school, Dorothy was more of the lyrical dancer, while Catherine was a great technician. Nancy remembers Carl as having beautiful feet. (See why I have to be careful what I say? There are too many out there who know the truth.)
I can only find facts on Catherine. She was born in 1905 and died in 1951; she made her Broadway debut in 1920, and founded the Catherine Littlefield Ballet Company in 1934, from which the Philadelphia Ballet later emerged in 1936 (the first ballet company exclusively made up of American dancers). They presented the first American full-length production of "The Sleeping Beauty" in 1937. That same year the company toured Paris, Brussels, and London. One interesting fact about Catherine is that she choreographed Sonja Henie's "Ice Revues" 1942-1948.
Ballet in England and America, as you have read in my writings has been a dream of one or two people: Rambert and de Valois (England), Dorothy Alexander (Atlanta), Willam Christensen (San Francisco), Ruth Page (Chicago), Catherine Littlefield (Philadelphia), Lucia Chase (Ballet Theatre, Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine (New York City Ballet), Robert Joffery (Joffrey Ballet). The Board of Directors is a recent phenomenon - - and I think you know my feelings - - they should only raise money and get the hell out of the way.
(First published August 1989)
If you really want to learn anything you have to put yourself out, even do a little work on the side. Remember, when a class stops being challenging -- it is time to push ahead.
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