Choreography: Ruthanna Boris
Music: Charles Gounod
Ruthanna Boris’ career as a choreographer got off to a flying start in 1947 with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s premiere of Cirque de Deux.
Ms. Boris explains that some of the members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, including herself, were eager for fresh American ballets. “So many of the ballets were European, but we needed American ballets for American dancers.”
After a number of years dancing with the Ballet Russe, Ms. Boris expressed her desire to choreograph a ballet for the company. Though she had recorded previous success choreographing for opera and summer theater, Ballet Russe management in the 1940’s reflected the temper of the times and hesitated to give woman responsibilities traditionally fulfilled by men. Nonetheless, she eventually was given an opportunity to choreograph a work and was requested to do a pas de deux.
The result was Cirque de Deux, an intertwined glimpse of the circus and ballet. The music is the Walpurgis Nacht ballet from the opera Faust by Charles Gounod. Designer/architect Robert Davison created the costumes and set.
Ms. Boris danced the ballerina role in its premiere. “I was so happy, and it ended up being the hit of the season,” says Boris. “It was originally danced by young Americans and hope it will always be performed by young, gifted American dancers.”