To many people, Lucia Chase (1897-1986) was the American Ballet Theatre, and her reign as the queen of American ballet lasted for more than four decades. It was Chase who brought Nureyev, Bujones, Kirkland, and eventually Baryshnikov to ABT. Under her leadership, the company worked with such legends as Agnes de Mille, Anthony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, and Twyla Tharp. Her drive, ambition, tenacity, and money kept the doors open even during the lean years. A dancer when the company made its debut in 1940, she was artistic director for an unprecedented thirty-five years, from 1945 to 1980.
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