Sharon Skeel, author of Catherine Littlefield: A Life in Dance, reviews “In Balanchine’s Classroom” for The American Conservative.  While it’s not mentioned in this review, the film perpetuates the myth that America lacked competent ballet teachers before George Balanchine arrived in 1933.  Not so.  Catherine Littlefield had been teaching in Philadelphia since 1925, and within three weeks of Balanchine’s arrival in the U.S., he went to her studio to hold auditions.  He took about a half dozen of her students, and they formed the nucleus of his first American company, The American Ballet.  It was for this company that Balanchine made what remains to this day his most famous ballet, Serenade.    


The Pennsylvania Ballet has changed its name to the Philadelphia Ballet.  Sharon Skeel weighs in on the change for the Philadelphia Inquirer: https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/pennsylvania-ballet-philadelphia-name-change-20210709.html


This website serves as a basic archive of biographic and artistic information about dancer/choreographer Catherine Littlefield (1905-51).  It is also the online complement to the print biography Catherine Littlefield: A Life in Dance by Sharon Skeel, published by Oxford University Press on March 4, 2020, which can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Littlefield-Dance-Sharon-Skeel/dp/0190654546

Skeel’s biography was designated one of thirteen “Notable Dance Books of 2020” by the esteemed Wendy Perron, the longtime editor of Dance Magazine: https://wendyperron.com/notable-dance-books-of-2020/

Reviewer Maggie Watson had this to say about it: https://oxforddancewriters.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/catherine-littlefield-sharon-skeel-maggie-watson-reviews/

For an overview of Littlefield’s career, watch this presentation at the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, where Littlefield was in the first class of inductees: https://vimeo.com/480112690

Meanwhile, New York’s classical station WQXR retrieved the music from Littlefield’s ballet Terminal, replete with detailed commentary.  Enjoy it here: https://www.wnyc.org/story/herbert-kingsleys-music-for-catherine-littlefields-ballet-terminal/

And kudos to The Philadelphia Citizen for recognizing such an important hometown girl for Women’s History Month!

Catherine Littlefield | Philadelphia Women’s History Month All-Star


Skeel is the leading authority on Littlefield, having researched her life and work for more than 30 years.  In addition to writing the first comprehensive biography of Littlefield, Skeel regularly highlights the accomplishments of Littlefield and her Philadelphia Ballet Company (1935-41) through lectures, exhibits and articles.

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