Hugh Laing, Maude Lloyd, Antony Tudor, and Peggy van Praagh in Tudor's, Jardin aux Lilas, Photo courtesy of New York Public Library

Pictured: Hugh Laing, Maude Lloyd, Antony Tudor, and Peggy van Praagh in Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas (1936), his masterpiece of psychological dance theater. (Photograph from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)


Antony Tudor applying make-up in his dressing room during (American) Ballet Theatre's first London season, 1946.  Photo by Roger Wood.  Pictured: Antony Tudor applying make-up in his dressing room during (American) Ballet Theatre's first London season, 1946. (Photo by Roger Wood. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dance Division.)


As a choreographer, Antony Tudor (1909-1987) approached his craft intellectually and, while incorporating the classical lexicon, used natural gesture and movement to reveal the inner thoughts and feelings of his characters. As a result, Tudor is often said to have invented a new genre, the 'psychological ballet.' Trained in his native London by Marie Rambert, he fashioned his first piece—Cross Gartered—for what became known as the Mercury Theater. Tudor also performed with the Vic-Wells Ballet and Ballet Camargo, worked commercially, and formed the London Ballet in 1938. When war was declared in Europe during the following year, he sailed to New York and began an enduring artistic relationship with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), which remains the most important home for his work to this day. Tudor was notorious for slow, mindful composition. Consequently, his repertory is not extensive, but is like a cabinet of jewels. Among the best loved are Lilac Garden, Dark Elegies, The Judgment of Paris, Dim Lustre, Undertow, Pillar of Fire, Romeo and Juliet, Echoing of Trumpets, Shadowplay, and The Leaves are Fading. While based in the United States, he also choreographed for the New York City Ballet and for international companies. When presenting Tudor with the Capezio Dance Award in 1986, Mikhail Baryshnikov, artistic director of ABT at the time, articulated the choreographer's aesthetic rigor: "Tudor is our conscience."

Learn more in Antony Tudor, an essay by Christopher Caines.



Excerpt from Lilac Garden, performed by Lois Smith, David Adams, and the National Ballet of Canada at Jacob's Pillow, 1953. Christopher Caines writes, "In Lilac Garden Tudor discovered for dance theater a unique poignancy and potency in unexpressed emotion."