SARATOGA SPRINGS – The National Museum of Dance held their 2019 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, October 19. The evening included the inductions of Carmen de Lavallade and Sir Frederick Ashton into the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame, as well as a special dedication to Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson.
It also celebrated the opening of new exhibitions honoring the two inductees’ extraordinary careers in dance. Special guests Carmen de Lavallade and Iain Webb, Director of the Sarasota Ballet, on behalf of Frederick Ashton, were in attendance.
Carmen de Lavallade made her professional debut at age seventeen with the Lester Horton Dance Theater. Over the course of her seventy-year career, she was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera and guest artist with American Ballet Theatre. Ballets have been created for her by Lester Horton, Geoffrey Holder, Alvin Ailey, Glen Tetley, John Butler, and Agnes de Mille and she has choreographed for Dance Theatre of Harlem, Philadanco, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Metropolitan Opera. She has also had an extensive acting career performing in film and in Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Lauded by numerous institutions, Carmen received the Dance Magazine Award, an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from The Juilliard School, Duke Ellington Fellowship Award, Dance USA Award, and in 2017 a Kennedy Center Honor.
Sir Frederick Ashton (1904-1988) studied with Léonide Massine and Marie Rambert who gave him his first opportunities as a choreographer. In 1928 he joined Ida Rubinstein’s company in Paris where he was greatly influenced by choreographer Bronislava Nijinska. In England he choreographed and danced for the Rambert Company and pursued a successful career as a dancer in musicals and revues. He became resident choreographer for Ninette de Valois’ Vic-Wells Ballet and later Associate Director. He succeeded Dame Ninette as Director of the company (now The Royal Ballet), a position he held until he retired in 1970. He created nearly one hundred ballets in all and worked in opera for over fifty years. He was knighted in 1962 and in 1977 was invited by The Queen to become a member of the Order of Merit. Among his many honors are France’s Legion d’Honneur and Denmark’s Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog.
Gallery: National Museum of Dance’s 2019 Hall of Fame Inductions