Nora Kaye (published 1992)

Dublin Core


Nora Kaye (published 1992)


When asked what she felt were the most important experiences she had before arriving to ballet theater Kaye answers that there was very little because she started at a young age. She expresses her good fortune having Michel Folkine (who is considered the father of modern ballet) as a teacher and at the same time studying at the Metropolitan Opera House with Margaret Curtis. Kaye states that she enjoyed Folkine because it wasn’t so rigid.

Biographical note:

Kaye was born in New York City in 1920 and studied at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School. She joined the American Ballet Theatre in 1939, the year it was founded. She was well-known for shaping the contemporary look of dancers, particularly during the 1940s and 1950s with Antony Tudor's dance-dramas. Other than a short tenure with New York City Ballet from 1951 to 1954, Kaye performed with ABT until she retired from dancing in 1961. She passed away in 1987 in her home in Los Angeles.


Pratt SILS LIS-665, Barbara Newman

Date Created

October 29, 1979



Access Rights

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Is Part Of

Newman, B. (1992). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. New York: Limelight Editions.




Interviews recorded on cassette by Barbara Newman

Rights Holder

Barbara Newman, Nora Kaye

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Audio Cassette Tape

Digital Master




Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps/44.1 kHz


Barbara Newman


Nora Kaye, 1920-1987


New York, NY

Additional content

"Prior to April 8, I942, no one had ever heard of a dramatic ballerina. Until Antony Tudor choreographed emotion and motivation as well as movement in Pillar of Fire, no ballet had ever required one. Drama presumes conflict, but before Hagar no ballet character had ever been in conflict with himself for more than a few — often his last — minutes. Odette and Odile represent a dramatic contrast, but they are equally straightforward and single-minded in their intentions and the conflict between them is a symbolic one, of good opposing evil or loving trust opposing deception. What Tudor envisioned and Nora Kaye realized in Hagar was not a symbol but a complex woman, tormented by the conflicts within herself. After Hagar, which no one else danced for eighteen years, Kaye created The Accused in Agnes de Mille's Fall River Legend (1948) (although illness kept her from dancing the premiere) and the Novice in Jerome Robbins' The Cage (1951). Without such stunning psychological portraits, ballet might still be confined to its nineteenth-century conventions. Without Nora Kaye, those portraits might never have been completed," Barbara Newman (1992).




“Nora Kaye (published 1992),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed June 28, 2022,

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