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JCA Dance Home Page

Le Beau Danube

The Ballet Russe Collection

One-act ballet, choreography and libretto by Leonide Massine.
Music by Johann Strauss.
Decor by Etienne de Beaumont.
Premiere: Paris, May 17, 1924, at the Soiree de Paris du Comte Etienne de Beaumont.

This ballet was one of the few Massine ballets in the repertoire of the rival company to the Ballet Russe, Colonel Blum's Original Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, to which the choreographer had full rights, and Le Beau Danube was thus one of the first ballets brought by Massine to the Ballet Russe when he joined the company in 1938. It became immediately very popular in America, and remained in the repertoire for a long time (1938-52, 1954-61).

A character comedy, the ballet is set in the Vienna Prater of the 1860s, where a dapper Hussar, engaged to the elder daughter of a noble family, is surprised by the sudden appearance of his former mistress, a street dancer.

Horst Koegler, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet

Gaite's sole rival in popularity is probably Le Beau Danube, and, because both are frothy ballets in an operetta style, they are often compared.

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

The backdrop is the only piece remaining in the collection of the Butler Ballet.