When American Ballet Theatre first staged “Pillar of Fire” in 1942, the company stepped out from underneath the long shadow of Russian ballet. Using the vocabulary of classical dance, choreographer Antony Tutor created intimate portraits of people’s inner lives — and set the company’s course, says Elizabeth Aldrich, the Library of Congress’ former dance curator.
“He left a very big footprint on the company,” she says.
A photo of “Pillar of Fire’s” original cast, alongside a photo of the cast from a 2003 restaging, is now on display (with dozens of other artifacts) as part of the Library of Congress’ new exhibit “American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years.”
The company’s late founder and major benefactor, Lucia Chase, makes a special appearance: She’s pictured at center in the original cast photo. A trained ballet dancer, Chase got plum roles even though she may not have been as skilled as her castmates. “When it’s your company, you can do what you want,” Aldrich says.