Antony Tudor

Antony Tudor in Gala Performance, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1941

Antony Tudor (4 April 1908 – 19 April 1987) was an English ballet choreographer, teacher and dancer.


Tudor was born William Cook in London. He discovered dance accidentally. He began dancing professionally with Marie Rambert in 1928, becoming general assistant for her Ballet Club the next year. A precocious choreographer, at age twenty-three he created for her dancers Cross Garter'd, then Lysistrata, The Planets and other works at the little Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, and his two most revolutionary, Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden) and Dark Elegies, before the age of thirty, himself dancing the main roles.

In 1938, he founded the London Ballet with Rambert members, including his future life partner, Hugh Laing,[1] Andrée Howard, Agnes de Mille, Peggy van Praagh, Maude Lloyd and Walter Gore. With the onset of World War II, in 1940 he was invited with them to New York, joining Richard Pleasant's and Lucia Chase's reorganized Ballet Theater. Chase's company was later to become the American Ballet Theatre, with which Tudor was closely associated for the rest of his life.

He was a resident choreographer with Ballet Theater for ten years, restaging some of his earlier works but also creating new works, his great Pillar of Fire (1942), Romeo and Juliet, Dim Lustre and Undertow, on that company by the end of the war. Retiring from dancing in 1950, he headed the faculty of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School, taught at the Juilliard School recurrently from 1950 onwards, and was artistic director for the Royal Swedish Ballet from 1963-64. He choreographed three works for the New York City Ballet. Tudor continued his teaching career as Professor of Ballet Technique at the Department of Dance, University of California, Irvine from 1973 (work curtailed by a serious heart condition), while rejoining American Ballet Theatre in 1974 as associate artistic director, creating The Leaves Are Fading and Tiller In the Fields, his last major work, in 1978. With Laing, he continued seasonal residence in Laguna Beach, California.

Boston Ballet dancers perform Antony Tudor's Dark Elegies (2008)

Tudor was awarded a creative arts medal by Brandeis University, the Dance Magazine and Capezio awards, New York City's Handel Medallion, and both Kennedy Center and Dance/USA National Honors.[2] Tudor was inducted into the Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in 1988.


Tudor is generally accepted as of the great originals of modern dance forms. Along with George Balanchine, he is seen as a principal transformer of ballet into a modern art, but of a genius that uses, rather than proceeds from, ballet forms. His work is usually considered as modern “psychological” expression, but — like their creator - of austerity, elegance and nobility, remarkably primarily using only classical forms. Mikhail Baryshnikov said, "We do Tudor's ballets because we must. Tudor's work is our conscience." [3] A disciplined Zen Buddhist, Tudor died on Easter Sunday in his residence at the First Zen Institute of America, aged 79.[4]

Thirty of Tudor's dances have been documented in Labanotation[5] by the Dance Notation Bureau. The scores' introductory material contains history of the dances, cast lists, stylistic notes, background on Tudor, and information needed to stage the works (costumes, sets, lighting, music).

Major works[6]

  • Cross Garter'd (1931)
  • Lysistrata (1932)
  • Adam and Eve (1932)
  • The Planets (1934)
  • The Descent of Hebe (1935)
  • Jardin aux lilas (1936; to Chausson's Poème for violin and orchestra)
  • Dark Elegies (1937)
  • Judgement of Paris (1938)
  • Soirée musicale (1938)
  • Gala Performance (1938)
  • Time Table (1938)
  • Pillar of Fire (1942)

  • Romeo and Juliet (1943)
  • Dim Lustre (1943)
  • The Day Before Spring (1945)
  • Undertow (1945)
  • Shadow of the Wind (1948)
  • Nimbus
  • Lady of the Camellias (1951)
  • The Glory (La Gloire) (1952)
  • Offenbach in the Underworld (1954)
  • Echoing of Trumpets (1963)
  • Shadowplay (1967)
  • The Leaves are Fading (1975)
  • The Tiller in the Fields (1978)


  1. Re: Laing (1911-1988), see his entry in The Encyclopedia of Dance & Ballet, Mary Clarke and David Vaughan, eds (New York: Putnam, 1977), pp. 202f; and William Como, "Editor's log: Hugh Laing", Dance Magazine (July 1988), p. 32
  2. For these and other cited facts, see the obituary statement by Gary Parks, "Antony Tudor, 1908-1987", Dance Magazine 61 (August 1987): 19; Tudor's entry in The Encyclopedia of Dance & Ballet, Mary Clarke and David Vaughan, eds (New York: Putnam, 1977), pp. 341f; and On Point (Friends of American Ballet Theatre) 13, no. 1 (Fall 1986): pp. 3-4
  3. On Point 13, no.1, p. 3
  4. For an essay interpretation of the man and his art, see Olga Maynard, "Antony Tudor: A Loving Memoir", Dance Magazine: 61 (August 1987): pp. 18-19, illustrated. For closer interpretation of Tudor's work through the 1950s, see Olga Maynard, The American Ballet (Philadelphia: Macrae Smith Company, 1959), 'Antony Tudor', pp. 127-38
  5. "Dance Notation Bureau's On-line Notated Theatrical Dances Catalog". Dance Notation Bureau. Dance Notation Bureau. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  6. A listing of Tudor's works and important dates is available at "Dancepages: Antony Tudor" (14 November 2005)

Further reading

External links

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