Chronology

1904  James H. Littlefield and Caroline Doebele marry.

1905  Catherine Littlefield born on Sept. 16.

1908  Caroline begins teaching dance in West Philadelphia.

1910  James H. Littlefield Jr. born.

1912  Dorothie Littlefield born.

1915  Carl Littlefield born.

circa 1918 Caroline opens dance studio in Llanerch firehouse.

1918 James Littlefield serves with YMCA war effort in Europe. Caroline begins teaching dance classes for local women’s music clubs.

1921 Florenz Ziegfeld invites Catherine to join his organization in New York. During the next four years she appears in the hit musical Sally and the Follies.

1925

  • Caroline hired as ballet mistress for the Philadelphia Civic Opera. Catherine becomes the company’s premiere danseuse.
  • In late summer, Caroline travels to Paris, the first of the family’s annual trips allowing Catherine and Dorothie to study with Russian teachers, particularly Egorova.

1927 Littlefields hired by the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company. Catherine begins to choreograph.

1928  Catherine begins arranging movie prologues and routines for local theaters.

1932 

  • Catherine creates dances for H.P. (Horsepower), a ballet-symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski with designs by Diego Rivera.  It is the first piece of choreography formally attributed to her.
  • Catherine directs Roxy Theatre ballet corps.

1933

  • Catherine marries Philip Leidy.  They move to Philadelphia’s Barclay Hotel.
  • Dorothie becomes first American teacher at George Balanchine’s new School of American Ballet.  Five Littlefield students join her and form nucleus of Balanchine’s first American company.

1934  James H. Littlefield, Catherine’s father, dies.

1935

  • First public appearance of Littlefield Ballet at Haverford Township Junior High School on Oct. 25.
  • In late December, company changes its name to Philadelphia Ballet and gives its first large company performance at the Academy of Music.

1936

  • Premier of full-length Daphnis and Chloe, the company’s first significant ballet and Catherine’s personal favorite.
  • Philadelphia Ballet performs in New York’s Lewisohn Stadium accompanied by the New York Philharmonic.
  • Catherine engages modern dancer/choreographer Lasar Galpern to create new works, resulting in Home Life of the Gods and The Prodigal Son.

1937

  • Philadelphia Ballet produces first full-length Sleeping Beauty in the U.S.
  • Barn Dance premiers and quickly becomes Catherine’s signature work.
  • Philadelphia Ballet embarks on a European tour, the first ever by an American classical ballet troupe.  They perform with great success in London, Paris and Brussels.
  • Catherine choreographs two historical pieces–Let the Righteous Be Glad and The Rising Sun–to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s ratification of the Constitution.
  • Philadelphia Ballet appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the first time during a regular concert series.

1938

  • Catherine and brother Carl and Thomas Cannon dance for President and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt and 300 guests at the White House.
  • Chicago City Opera engages Philadelphia Ballet for the 1938-39 season.  The company is re-engaged the following year and again for the 1941-42 season.

1939

  • Philadelphia Ballet performs at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • Company undertakes three-month domestic tour.

1940

  • Catherine named one of the “10 Best Dressed Women in America.”
  • American Jubilee, a grand historical pageant choreographed by Catherine, runs for 24 weeks at the New York World’s Fair.
  • Catherine begins work on ice show for the newly installed rink in New York’s Center Theatre.

1941

  • Philadelphia Ballet begins second domestic tour.
  • Three of Catherine’s shows run on Broadway at the same time: Crazy with the HeatIt Happens on Ice and Hold onto Your Hats.
  • Catherine works on first Hollywood Ice Revue starring Sonja Henie.
  • Bombing of Pearl Harbor scotches plans for a second European tour and a third U.S. tour.  Company essentially dissolves, although Catherine hopes to resurrect it when conditions allow.

1944  Ballet Theatre mounts Barn Dance; Dorothie Littlefield and Thomas Cannon reprise their roles.

1946

  • Catherine and Philip Leidy divorce.
  • Jimmy Littlefield, Catherine’s oldest brother, dies on his farm in Virginia.

1947  Catherine marries journalist Sterling Noel.  They move to penthouse apartment on 57th St. in Manhattan.

1948  Release of first and only film Catherine choreographed, The Countess of Monte Cristo.

1949  Catherine has mastectomy.

1951

  • Catherine arranges dances for Four-Star Revue, a variety television show on NBC hosted by Jimmy Durante.
  • Catherine dies of cancer in Chicago on Nov. 19.

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