Dancers Deanna Doyle and Michael Eaton. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancers Deanna Doyle and Michael Eaton. Photographer Steve Wilson.

Choreography: Agnes de Mille
Music: Aaron Copland
Costume Design: Janet Marie Groom

Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo commissioned choreographer Agnes de Mille and composer Aaron Copland to collaborate on the creation of a western ballet for its 1942-1943 season. Originally sub-titled The Courting at Burnt Ranch, Rodeo was first produced at the Metropolitan Opera House on October 16, 1942, with scenery by Oliver Smith and costumes by Kermit Love.

The idea for the ballet was devised by Miss de Mille who described it as follows:

“Throughout the American Southwest, the Saturday afternoon rodeo gets its tradition. On the remote ranches, as well as in the trading towns, the ‘hands’ get together to show off their skill in roping, riding, branding, and throwing. Often, on the more isolated ranches, the rodeo is done for an audience that consists only of a handful of fellow-workers, women-folk, and those nearest neighbors who can make the eighty or so mile runover. The theme of the ballet is basic. It deals with the problem that has confronted all American women, from the earliest pioneer times, and which has never ceased to occupy them throughout the history of the building of our country: how to get a suitable man.”

World Premiere: October 16, 1942, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Metropolitian Opera House, New York City, New York

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: October 10, 1996, Midland Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

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