Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Amy Herzog

Subject Categories

Dance | History | United States History


Early Ballet in the United States, Florence Rogge, Radio City Music Hall, Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company, The Great Stage, The Living Nativity


Radio City Music Hall, the first building completed in the complex known as Rockefeller City, premiered its inaugural performance on December 27, 1932. The initial vision of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was to build the Hall into a center that showcased the accomplishments of American innovation through advanced engineering, art, and culture. The Hall represented newness. During the worst years of the Great Depression, newness represented optimism and hope for a better economic future for the country.

An integral component included in all stage shows at the Music Hall was the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company. Florence Rogge, the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the company, presented innovation that served to further propel Rockefeller's initial vision by uplifting the people through fantasy, performing arts, and entertainment. Ballet also represented newness in the United States. Rogge successfully introduced and shaped a new aesthetic of ballet for American audiences, who were unfamiliar with ballet.

The focus of this thesis is to examine the progression of early ballet in the United States. In order to understand the importance of Florence Rogge's contributions to ballet, an analysis includes archival research and the oral histories of five members of the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company from 1944-1958.