Oliver Smith Menu
Oliver Smith, set designer. Set design for Rodeo, choreographed by Agnes de Mille for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, 1942. (Oliver Smith Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.)
Oliver Smith (1918-1994) was acclaimed as a designer of musical comedy, ballet, opera, and film and served as co-director of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) from 1945 until 1980, and from 1990 until his death. His visual style distilled essences to give an immediate sense of place, frequently Americana, while opening up uncluttered floor space for dancing. Smith was a major contributor to establishing the eclectic nature of ABT's repertory. He first departed from canvas to stage painting with designs for Leonide Massine's Saratoga (1941) for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and gained a major success with his set for Agnes de Mille's Rodeo in the following year. Among Smith's many dance designs are Fall River Legend, Fancy Free, Interplay, Les Noces, Petroushka, Giselle, Swan Lake, The Wild Boy, and The Catherine Wheel. The winner of seven Tony awards, Smith accumulated credits for such Broadway blockbusters as On the Town, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Camelot, and Hello, Dolly!. His designs for more than 400 productions include the films Guys and Dolls, The Bandwagon, Oklahoma!, and Porgy and Bess.