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Dance Heritage Coalition

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Loring, Eugene, 1911-1982. Papers, ca. 1938-1981.

- Biographical History

Biographical History

Eugene Loring was born LeRoy Kerpestein in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 2, 1911. Loring came to dance through theater. After graduating from high school in 1929, he worked with the Milwaukee Players during which time he began to study ballet and tap dancing. In the spring of 1934, he went to New York to study at the School of American Ballet. That summer, during the school's recess, Loring performed with the Fokine Ballet in Lewisohn Stadium. Loring performed with the American Ballet Company in Balanchine's works in its initial appearance in Hartford, Connecticut in December 1934.

Loring's first ballet "Harlequin for President" followed a libretto by Lincoln Kirstein and premiered in a Ballet Caravan performance at Bennington College on July 17, 1936. Loring's other works for Ballet Caravan include his well-known "Billy the Kid," which premiered in Chicago on October 16, 1938, with Loring dancing the role of Billy.

"The Great American Goof" was created by Loring for Ballet Theatre's inaugural performance on January 11, 1940; it was a ballet with words based on a libretto by William Saroyan.

Loring worked with his own company Dance Players in 1941 and 1942 and choreographed three new works on the company. After his association with Dance Players, he became steadily involved in motion pictures and television. He was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios to a contract as dance director and actor and moved to Hollywood in 1943. Loring worked intermittently on Broadway shows in New York over the next decade, however, his work for ballet companies dwindled. He created no major work again until "Capital of the World" in 1953 for Ballet Theatre.

Loring's work in film began as a performer in a minor role in "National Velvet" in 1944. He went on to stage the dance sequences in more than a dozen films from 1944 to 1960, including "Ziegfeld Follies," "Meet Me in Las Vegas," "Funny Face," and "Silk Stockings."

His American School of Dance was founded in Hollywood in 1948 and provided a comprehensive program in dance, covering a stylistic range from classical ballet to modern and character dance. It was here that Loring developed his "Freestyle" technique, which attempted to synthesize several forms of movement in order to develop versatile dancers and enable them to adapt to the many styles required of them professionally. Loring sold the school in 1974.

In 1965 Loring became the first chairman of the new dance program at the University of California at Irvine. He patterned the program after the one he had developed at the American School of Dance. He retired from the University in 1981 and moved to Accord, New York.

Eugene Loring died on August 30, 1982, in Kingston, New York.

Administrative Information Table of Contents Scope and Content Note