In 1938, he founded the London Ballet with Rambert members, including his future life partner, Hugh Laing, Andrée Howard, Agnes de Mille, Peggy van Praagh, Maude Lloyd and Walter Gore, but with the onset of World War II, in 1940 was invited with them to New York, joining Richard Pleasant's and Lucia Chase's reorganized Ballet Theater. Chase's company was later to become the American Ballet Theatre, with which Tudor was closely associated for the rest of his life.
He was resident choreographer with Ballet Theater for ten years, restaging some of his earlier works but also setting the new works, his great Pillar of Fire, Romeo and Juliet, Dim Lustre and Undertow, on that company by the end of the war. Retiring from dancing in 1950, he headed the faculty of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School, taught at the Juilliard School recurrently from 1950 onwards, and was artistic director for the Royal Swedish Ballet from 1963-64. He choreographed three works for the New York City Ballet. Tudor continued his teaching career as Professor of Ballet Technique at the Department of Dance, University of California, Irvine from 1973 (work curtailed by a serious heart condition), while rejoining American Ballet Theatre in 1974 as associate artistic director, creating The Leaves Are Fading and Tiller In the Fields, his last major work, in 1978. With Laing, he continued seasonal residence in Laguna Beach, California.
Hugh Laing (6 June 1911 – 10 May 1988) was one of the most significant dramatic ballet dancers of the 20th-century. He was the partner of choreographer Antony Tudor.
Hugh Laing was born in Barbados in the then British West Indies. He moved to London in 1931 to study art, but soon became interested in ballet. After taking ballet classes with Marie Rambert, Margaret Craske and Olga Preobrajenska, he joined Miss Rambert's experimental Ballet Club in 1933, and it was there that he met Antony Tudor. (P: ©Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964)/LOC ds.03994. Hugh Laing, 1940 (©3))
He remained Tudor's artistic collaborator and companion until the choreographer's death in 1987. For the Ballet Club, Tudor created roles for Laing in The Planets, The Descent of Hebe, Jardin aux Lilas and Dark Elegies.
In 1938, Laing became a member of Tudor's London Ballet, a short-lived troupe for which he danced in Tudor's Gala Performance and Judgment of Paris.
Hugh Laing accompanied Tudor to New York in 1939 to participate in the first season of Ballet Theater, as American Ballet Theatre was originally known. Just as Tudor soon was recognised as a great choreographer, so Laing was hailed as one of the company's finest artists.
At Ballet Theater, Tudor choreographed several of the roles for which Laing was famous - the handsome, but corrupt, Young Man from the House Opposite in Pillar of Fire (1942), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1943), a sophisticated gentleman in Dim Lustre (also 1943) and a murderer in Undertow (1945). He was also admired for his portrayals of the gypsy lover in Léonide Massine's Aleko, a neurotic young man in Jerome Robbins' Facsimile, Albrecht in Giselle and the title role of Petrushka.
He danced with the New York City Ballet from 1950 to 1952, appearing in a revival of Jardin aux Lilas and in such new works by Tudor as The Lady of the Camellias (1951) and La Gloire (1952). In addition, he won praise in the title role of George Balanchine's Prodigal Son and Robbins's Age of Anxiety. He later made guest appearances with Ballet Theater, then embarked upon a new career as a commercial photographer in New York continuing to assist Tudor with restagings of his ballets.
Laing appeared as the villain Harry Beaton in the film version of the musical Brigadoon (1954).
Known for his good looks and the intensity of his stage presence, Laing was never considered a great technician, yet his powers of characterisation and his sense of theatrical timing were considered remarkable. His profile as a significant dancer of his era was almost certainly enhanced by Tudor's choreographing to his undoubted strengths and Laing is generally regarded as one of the finest dramatic dancers of 20th-century ballet.
Laing's longtime relationship with Tudor was briefly interrupted when Laing married the American ballerina Diana Adams in 1947. Laing and Adams were divorced in 1953.
Hugh Laing died of cancer, aged 77, in New York City in 1988.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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