[Ballets Russes] [Hoffmann, Gertrude. (1885-1966)]

Album Souvenir de “La Saison Russe” - Souvenir Program

New York: Gertrude Hoffmann Company. 1911. Rare souvenir program for the 1911 American tour which was the first performance of the Ballets Russes repertory in America. Billed as “Miss Gertrude Hoffmann Announces Les Ballets Russes,” the program features a lushly printed cover illustration, writings about various dances and dancers accompanied by halftone photographs and drawings. 24 pp. Original cord binding. Wear to outer edges of original wrappers, overall in fine condition. 9.75 x 12.5 inches (24.8 x 31.8 cm.).

The program features excerpts of three ballets by Mikhail Fokine, staged by Theodore Kosloff without permission: Cléopâtre, Shéhéradeze, Les Sylphides with dancers Lydia Lopoukowa, Maria Baldina, Alexander Volinine, Theordore Kosloff, Ivan Tarasow etc. and with photos of Lopoukowa, Baldina, Kosloff, Volinine and others. Morris Gest and F. Ray Comstock, managing directors Gertrude Hoffman (Hoffmann) developed these first Ballets Russes seen in America. Hoffman is also credited with infusing American vaudeville with Ballets Russes material. She presented “cut-rate renditions of Russian ballets to one-horse towns across the Nation.” (Laurence Senelick, his article on Vaudeville. VI, pp 318-19,International Encyclopedia Dance. Selma Jeanne Cohen, ed (1998). 

Hoffmann came to New York City to perform on the vaudeville circuit. A dancer in her native California, she caught the attention of theatre impresario Oscar Hammerstein, the grandfather of the famous lyricist. “In 1908, Hammerstein sent Hoffmann to England to study the acclaimed Salome dance performed by Canadian actress Maud Allen. A few months later, Hoffmann debuted ‘A Vision of Salome’ at Hammerstein’s performance space atop the Victoria Theatre,” which eventually caught the attention of New York’s Society for the Repression of Vice. “Undeterred by obscenity troubles, Hoffmann continued building a dance career on strong female characters. She created dances as Cleopatra and Scheherazade, and she travelled to Europe engaging Russian dancers and producing her own show, ‘La Saison de Ballets Russes’ to tour America.” For a time, Hoffmann ran a dance training school in New York, and her last Broadway credit was as choreographer for the 1927 musical revue A Night in Spain. “After retiring as a performer and teacher, Hoffmann moved back to California. She passed away on October 1, 1966, at the age of 80.” (Museum of the City of New York) (21175)

Program - unsigned
Ephemera & Instruments