Ruth Page, Photo courtesy of New York Public Library Ruth Page in a studio shot. Page was a pioneer both as a woman choreographer and company director in the male-dominated ballet world, and as a creator of modern, American-themed ballets. (Photograph from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)

Dancer, choreographer, company director, and pioneering Chicago dance figure for over half a century, Ruth Page (1899-1991) was born in Indianapolis. She studied fancy dancing with Anna Stanton and ballet with Elizabetta Menzeli, made her professional debut on Broadway, then toured South America with Anna Pavlova. During the 1920s Page worked closely with Adolph Bolm, starring in his productions for Chicago Allied Arts and choreographing her first successful dances for its repertory. Settling in Chicago, she became premiere danseuse of the Ravinia Opera. In the 1930s, in partnership with Bentley Stone, she created Frankie and Johnny (1938) and several other Americana ballets, most to commissioned scores by American composers; she also worked with Katherine Dunham and Harald Kreutzberg, exploring a broad range of expression. In the following decades she created a number of works inspired by operas, founded the Chicago Opera Ballet, and formed the Ruth Page Foundation for Dance, a school she co-directed with Larry Long. Sophisticated, open-minded, and energetic, she gave opportunities and exposure to countless American and international dance artists.

Ruth Page in her solo Ballet Scaffolding, ca. 1928.  Photo by Maurice Goldberg. Ruth Page in her solo Ballet Scaffolding, 1928. Page "pursued modernist ballet with a keen sense of the au courant," Joellen Meglin writes. (Photo by Maurice Goldberg. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dance Division.)

Learn more in Ruth Page: Early Architect of the American Ballet, an essay by Joellen A. Meglin.