Antony Tudor coaching Nora Kaye and Hugh Laing in Romeo and Juliet ahead of American Ballet Theatre's spring 1956 season

Radford Bascome, Courtesy DM Archives

#FlashbackFriday: Nora Kaye Left Her First Rehearsal With Antony Tudor "Screaming"

On January 17, 1920, one of American ballet's most celebrated dance actresses was born. Nora Kaye's father was an actor who'd worked under Konstantin Stanislavski; her earliest ballet teacher was Ballets Russes choreographer Michel Fokine. ("He was more interested in creating roles than in teaching class," she recalled in the February 1965 issue of Dance Magazine.)


Brief stints with Balanchine's short-lived American Ballet, on Broadway and at Radio City prefaced her joining American Ballet Theatre's corps for its 1940 inaugural season. She caught the eye of Antony Tudor (despite leaving his first rehearsal "screaming that she would never work with that Englishman again," according to Tudor) and became an overnight sensation after leading the premiere of his psychological Pillar of Fire in 1942.

"Tudor changed my whole life—the way I moved and the way I thought," she said. "He told me what to think and what to read, even what to wear and what to eat. We were inseparable. Sometimes he could really make me feel miserable; he could almost be sadistic. Yet he could be wonderful, too." Their work came to define the "Theatre" part of ABT's name.

Latest Posts


Amber Star Menkens. Courtesy Dance for PD/Mark Morris Dance Groups

The Pandemic Has Helped Dance for PD Reach More People Than Ever

When COVID-19 forced the Dance for PD program at Mark Morris Dance Center to discontinue in-person classes on March 15, it was done with the same uncertainty that we all felt going into lockdown. How long will this last? How can we keep dancing?

Dance for PD, which uses movement to help those living with Parkinson's, was also faced with the question of how they could continue to serve a highly vulnerable population. What they found were solutions that will forever change the way that they serve their community.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS