August 12, 2015
American Ballet Theatre 'Billy the Kid' at the White House, May 22, 1962
John Kriza (1919-1975) was one of American Ballet Theatre’s most famous principal dancers and performed leading roles with them from 1940 to 1966.
Here is Jack Mitchell’s photograph of Kriza performing ABT’s “The Lady from the Sea” in 1961.
Kriza is most remembered for his performances in the title role of composer Aaron Copeland’s ballet “Billy the Kid”,
and here is Jack’s iconic 1961 photograph of John in costume for that role.
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy celebrated American history and culture during diplomatic occasions and invited the American Ballet Theatre to perform “Billy the Kid” at the White House as entertainment at a dinner for the President of the Ivory Coast. Jack Mitchell was the official ABT photographer to record the occasion. Here is Jack's shot of John Kriza and the company boarding a US Air Force charter from NYC to Washington D.C.
And later that afternoon, choreographer Eugene Loring watches John Kriza rehearsing for the evening performance.
Jack took this photograph of American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Ruth Ann Koesun and John Kriza during the performance:
And here is a wonderful shot he took just after the performance as the guests of honor come to the stage to thank the dancers. From left to right – choreographer Eugene Loring, President John F. Kennedy, President of the Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, First Lady of the Ivory Coast, Marie-Thérèse Houphouët-Boigny, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and composer Aaron Copeland.
Quite an occasion!