Music: Gustav Mahler (Kindertotenlieder), settings of poems by Rückert.
Choreography: Antony Tudor.
Decor: Nadia Benois.
Premiered: on Feb 19, 1937 by the Ballet Rambert in London (Duchess Theatre).
Dancers at the premiere: Antony Tudor,
Hugh Laing, Maude Lloyd, Peggy Van Praagh, Agnes De Mille, Walter Gore,
Daphne Gow, Ann Gee, Patricia Clogstoun, Beryl Kay, Celia Franca, John Byron.
Plot: Songs are sung by (usually) baritone or (sometimes) contralto onstage
while a group of village peasants dance their grief and finally express
resignation and acceptance of a tragedy--possibly the death of a child or
children, as indicated by the title of the music.(SirodEnaj)
In the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet
since 1985 (premiered by Isabelle
It has also been revived for the American Ballet Theatre (then Ballet Theatre) in 1940 (with Lucia Chase, Miriam Golden, Nina Stroganova (later Nora Kaye), Hugh Laing, Antony Tudor, and Dimitri Romanoffand), for the Swedish Ballet in Stockholm in 1963, for the Royal Ballet in 1980.
According to The Dance Encyclopedia, "The ballet is accompanied by a vocal rendering of Mahler's song cycle. The set of dances reflects the atmosphere of these songs on the death of children, the anguish of bereavment, the ultimate acceptance of loss in the knowledge that life will go on. Tudor used a very free ballet style for his choreography, with very little pointe work. The two back cloths and the simple costumes suggest a fishing village."