Jordan College of the Arts
Department of Dance

Ghost Town

Ghosttown Drop
Backdrop for Ghost Town, by Raoul Pene du Bois

The Ballet Russe Collection

Ballet choreographed by Marc Platoff to a commissioned score by Richard Rodgers.
Decor by Raoul Pene du Bois.
Premiere: New York, November 12, 1939, by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

"Ghost Town, the choreographic debut of American dancer Marc Platoff (born Marcel LePlat and later known in musical comedy as Marc Platt) was the first of several attempts by the Ballet Russe to satisfy demands for ballets on American themes. Platoff's ballet...shows present-day hikers in a ghost town meeting an old prospector who told them the town's story, the story constituting the bulk of the ballet. Though Platoff was the great-grandson of Frederick Stork, a California pioneer who built the original mills for Comstock's miners, some critics charged that the ballet did not capture a genuine American atmosphere. For Edward Downes it was 'about as American as a Russian Grand Duchess in dude ranch clothes.' Edwin Denby, however, though he disliked Ghost Town's 'awkward spacing, and operatic arm-waving,' detected 'an exuberant energy in it.'"

Jack Anderson, The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

Aside from the backdrop pictured above, this ballet is represented in our collection by a set of 2 differently colored legs and border, one blue, and one light-wood colored, which probably allowed for different scenes. We also found some drop extensions, indicating that the ballet originally premiered in a house that must have had a narrow proscenium opening, and later it must have been necessary to accommodate a wider stage setting.

Below are pictures of the different sets of legs against the backdrop.

Ghosttown Yellowlegs
Backdrop with wood-colored, plank-like legs and borders
Ghosttown Bluelegs
Backdrop with blue legs and borders