Eugene Loring, Photo by Fritz Henle Pictured: Eugene Loring as Moses as a child in the Dance Players production of his ballet The Man from Midian (1942). Loring excelled at telling stories and creating characters through dance, and many of his works were based on poems, stories, or historical events. (Photograph by Fritz Henle; from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)


A pioneering choreographer who fused ballet, modern, and jazz styles in the creation of a distinctly American idiom, Eugene Loring (1911-1982) was born in Milwaukee. He made his debut with the Wisconsin Players, a small dramatic group, for which he created his earliest dances. In 1934 he went to New York to study at the School of American Ballet, danced in the company of Michel Fokine as well as with Balanchine's American Ballet. For Ballet Caravan, the small touring company founded in 1936 by Lincoln Kirstein, he choreographed several works, including Billy the Kid (1938) the greatest of the era's Americana ballets. A charter member of Ballet Theatre, he founded his own company, Dance Players, in 1941. Although he continued to choreograph for the ballet stage, Loring did some of his best later work for Broadway and Hollywood; among his successes were the film versions of Silk Stockings (1955) and Funny Face (1956). In 1948 he founded the American School of Dance in Hollywood and in 1965 the dance department at the University of California at Irvine.

Learn more in Eugene Loring, an essay by Martha Ullman West.