Degrees of Separation: Lester Horton’s

Le Sacre du printemps at The Hollywood Bowl

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This essay examines Lester Horton’s 1937 production of Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) at the Hollywood Bowl. In particular, the genesis of the work and the transference of Russian modernism in 1930s Los Angeles is explored. The essay focuses on Horton’s professional relationships with two artists in Los Angeles, Adolph Bolm and Michio Ito, both of whom were in his proximity as teachers, mentors and colleagues when he created Le Sacre. The Russian émigré Bolm, a former dancer with the Ballets Russes during the period Nijinsky choreographed The Rite of Spring in 1913, was a well-established teacher and choreographer in Los Angeles. Bolm’s and Horton’s parallel interests in American Indian dance forms are discussed. Ito, the Japanese dancer and choreographer who was inspired to pursue dance after witnessing performances of the Ballets Russes, trained in Dalcroze Eurhythmics in Hellerau before settling in Los Angeles in 1929. Horton’s production of Le Sacre, the seventh created internationally and first West Coast version is discussed in detail, drawing on the choreographer’s rehearsal notes and other first-hand accounts.

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References
  • 6

    Robert M. FogelsonThe Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles 1850-1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press1993) pg. 74.

  • 9

    Kenneth H. MarcusMusical Metropolis: Los Angeles and the Creation of a Music Culture 1880-1940 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan2004) pg. 9.

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  • 12

    Elvi Moore“Bella Lewitzky: a Legend Turned Real,” Dance ChronicleVolume 2 Issue 1 (1978): pg. 10.

  • 16

    Lester Horton“American Indian Dancing,” The American Dancer (June 1929): pg. 9.

  • 17

    Lester Horton“American Indian Dance,” Educational DanceVol. 4-#4 (October 1941): pp. 4-7.

  • 20

    Frank Eng Notes December 12 1971Box 2 Folder 3 lhc pg. 5.

  • 22

    Dorathi Bock Pierre“From Primitive to Modern,” The American Dancer (October 1937): pg. 14.

  • 25

    Adolph Bolm“The Dance at the World’s Fair,” The Dance (1928)

  • 29

    Adolph Bolm“European Ballet Master Gives his Impressions of Native American Dance,” San Francisco Chronicle (hereafter “sfc”) September 20 1936 abc Box 2 Folder 33.

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  • 36

    Helen CaldwellMichio Ito: the Dancer and his Dances (Berkley: University of California Press1977) pg. 38.

  • 39

    Adolph Bolm dance school program 1920sBox 14 Folder 29 dbpdc.

  • 42

    Romola NijinskyNijinsky (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd1933) pg. 316.

  • 50

    Takwish program 1932Box 12 Folder 1 Programs 1927-35 lhc.

  • 68

    Yaël Tamar LewinNight’s Dancer: the Life of Janet Collins (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan2011) pg. 51.

  • 74

    Hollywood Bowl program August 5 1937p. 39. Los Angeles Philharmonic Archives.

  • 92

    Ibid. pp. 183-184.

Figures
  • View in gallery
    Philharmonic Auditorium, located on 5th and Olive streets, Los Angeles, ca. 1920s.

    courtesy of the los angeles public library

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    Lester Horton, c. 1930s.

    courtesy of the los angeles examiner collection, university of southern california

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    Lester Horton, unknown American Indian Dance, ca. 1929.

    photo by toyo miyatake. courtesy of david lober

  • View in gallery
    Adolph Bolm at the Hollywood Bowl, 1931.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

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    American Indian tribal dance in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1921.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

  • View in gallery
    American Indian tribal dance in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1921.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

  • View in gallery
    Adolph Bolm (center) with American Indian tribe in Gallup, New Mexico, 1937.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

  • View in gallery
    Michio Ito in Pizzicati, 1929.

    photo by toyo miyatake. courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

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    Cover of Olympic Dance Festival program, Los Angeles, 1932.

    courtesy of amielle zemach

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    Program for Takwish, the Star Maker, 1932.

    courtesy of the lester horton collection, music division, library of congress

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    William Bowne’s costume design by for Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps, 1937.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archives

  • View in gallery
    William Bowne’s costume design by for Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps, 1937.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archives

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    Photograph of Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps at the Hollywood Bowl, 1937.

    courtesy of the bella lewitzky collection, university of southern california

  • View in gallery
    Photograph of Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps at the Hollywood Bowl, 1937. Bella Lewitzky is on the right as the Chosen One.

    courtesy of the lester horton collection, music division, library of congress

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    Publicity photograph of Bella Lewitzky as The Chosen One in Le Sacre du printemps, 1937.

    courtesy of the bella lewitzky collection, university of southern california

  • View in gallery
    Publicity photograph of Bella Lewitzky as The Chosen One in Le Sacre du printemps, 1937.

    courtesy of the bella lewitzky collection, university of southern california

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    Photograph of dancer in mask for Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps, 1937.

    courtesy of the lester horton collection, music division, library of congress

  • View in gallery
    Photograph of Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps at the Hollywood Bowl, 1937.

    courtesy of the bella lewitzky collection, university of southern california

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    Photograph of Bella Lewitzky rehearsing Lester Horton’s Le Sacre du printemps at the Hollywood Bowl, 1937.

    courtesy of the bella lewitzky collection, university of southern california

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