Scott Douglas

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James Hicks, known as Scott Douglas, was a leading dancer with Ballet Theater in the 1950's and 60's and a choreographer and teacher.  He died on Tuesday [22nd March 1996] at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan. He was 70.

The cause was emphysema, said Ellen Zeisler, a friend.

Writing about Ballet Theater (later called American Ballet Theater) in 1956, John Martin, dance critic of The New York Times, compared Mr. Douglas to Erik Bruhn, the internationally known danseur noble. Describing both as "absolutely first-rate classic male dancers," Mr. Martin wrote, "They are as different as night and day, but they are both in superb command of their bodies -- easy, meticulously accurate, stylish, brilliant."

Mr. Douglas, whose original name was Jimmy Hicks, was born in El Paso, the son of the city's sheriff. He began his dance training when he was 6 and made his professional debut as a tap dancer on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit at age 9. After military service he studied and performed in Los Angeles with Ruth St. Denis and Lester Horton. Mr. Douglas joined the San Francisco Ballet in 1948, leaving in 1950 to join Ballet Theater, where he became a principal dancer in 1953 and, eventually, its lead male dancer.

Mr. Douglas was as well known for his portrayals of the Third Sailor in Jerome Robbins's "Fancy Free," the title role in Eugene Loring's "Billy the Kid" and the Head Wrangler in Agnes de Mille's "Rodeo" as he was for his dancing as the prince in "Swan Lake" and the poetic male soloist in "Les Sylphides." His other major roles at Ballet Theater included the Boy in Green in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Patineurs," the lead male in George Balanchine's "Theme and Variations," the Friend in Antony Tudor's "Pillar of Fire" and the Pastor in de Mille's "Fall River Legend."

While a member of Ballet Theater, Mr. Douglas also performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, partnered Nora Kaye at the 1959 Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, and appeared in John Butler's "Carmina Burana" at the New York City Opera. He also performed with Jerome Robbins's Ballets: U.S.A., the Dutch National Ballet and the Glen Tetley Dance Company, where he originated the lead male role in Mr. Tetley's "Ricercare." He also created roles in ballets by Loring, Valerie Bettis and Herbert Ross.

Mr. Douglas retired from performing in 1969 but continued to work in dance, serving as the ballet master of the Netherlands Dance Theater and American Ballet Theater, a position he held at the American company for many years. He was also a ballet master and teacher at the Stuttgart Ballet, the Royal Ballet in London, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Paris Opera, La Scala and Aterballetto in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and was a ballet master and Mr. Tetley's assistant at the National Ballet of Canada. Mr. Douglas choreographed ballets for the Hamburg State Opera Ballet and the Norwegian National Ballet.

He is survived by Mr. Tetley, his companion of 40 years, and by a sister, Kay Biros, of El Paso.




Sources for this article include:

  New York Times

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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024