Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

Music: Richard Rodgers (from On Your Toes, 1936), orchestrated by Hershy Kay
Choreography: George Balanchine, © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging: Susan Pilarre
Scenic and Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Duration: 23 minutes
Premiere: May 2, 1968; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: September 20, 2008

The 2008 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was generously underwritten by Dan & Pam Baty.

Lesley Rausch and PNB Company dancers in
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Photo © Angela Sterling

Balanchine originally choreographed Slaughter on Tenth Avenue in 1936 for the musical On Your Toes, in which Ray Bolger played The Hoofer and Tamara Geva portrayed The Stripper. The show was a parody of Broadway, Russian ballet, and the mob, in which a jealous Russian premier danseur hires a mobster to kill a rival during the premiere of a new ballet, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. The ballet itself tells the story of a tacky strip joint and the customer who falls in love with the Big Boss' girl. The premier danseur arranges for the hoofer to be killed, but the girl saves him. At Balanchine's insistence, On Your Toes was the first Broadway musical to credit staged dances as "choreography," and is considered the first musical in which the dances were integrated into the plot, performed by dancers who were also dramatic characters.

On Your Toes was the first of four Rodgers and Hart musicals choreographed by Balanchine. The others were Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, and The Boys from Syracuse. In 1967, Balanchine mounted Slaughter on Tenth Avenue as a separate work for New York City Ballet. Casting Suzanne Farrell and Arthur Mitchell in the lead roles, Balanchine followed the original ideas but made new choreography.

Recommended Listening:
Rodgers: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue , RCA, 1997

Notes by Doug Fullington.

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