Page, Ruth (1899–1991) By Meglin, Joellen
Ruth Page was a Chicago-based dancer, choreographer, and director of ballet companies whose experimentalism, disregard for genre boundaries, and affinity for collaboration led her in directions at once cosmopolitan and modern. Her theatrical inventions were urbane and often risqué, leading to clashes with censors despite the popular appeal of her works. Regardless of their mixed critical reception, her ballets combined eclectic tastes with her unique sensibility as a woman drawn to the unconventional and offbeat for the greater part of the twentieth century.
Page is best known for her 1938 Americana ballet Frankie and Johnnie, which she choreographed with Bentley Stone. A closer look at Page’s works over a lifetime reveals how she incorporated modernist currents: futurism, abstraction, primitivism, African-American jazz and vernacular dancing, popular entertainments (circus, Broadway revue, floor show), cityscapes, syntheses of voice and movement in danced poems and dance-plays, and re-creations of operas as ballets.