This chapter chronicles the formation and first season of the dance company Ballet Caravan, revealing the troupe’s close ties to the American Ballet and School of American Ballet. Contrary to prior accounts, Ballet Caravan was in its initial conception neither a dancer-driven initiative nor a carefully conceived attempt by Kirstein to pursue an American artistic agenda. Instead it was conceived of barely six weeks prior to its first performances in July 1936 as a practical response to an array of institutional crises facing the American Ballet, including Balanchine’s health problems and business partner Edward Warburg’s lack of interest in remaining involved with the enterprise. The American Ballet and Ballet Caravan thus reveal themselves, at least in the Caravan’s first season of the summer and fall of 1936, as more contiguous than distinct, sharing personnel, aesthetic values, choreographic styles, as well as the involvement of Balanchine himself.
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