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"My mother and father took me to see Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and we sat in a box and I don't remember what we saw, but my mother told me I said that was what I wanted to do when I grew up."

Early Dance Training

"The company paired us and then we did a lot of things together because we were from the same part of the country. We would do Summer Stock and also nightclub work."

John Kriza and Summer Stock

Ruth Ann Koesun was born in 1928 in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. She studied dance with Edna Lucille Baum and at Stone-Camryn School of Ballet. Along with her classmate and frequent partner, John Kriza, she became a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. She was most known for her versatility as a ballerina, performing in a wide variety of ballets, including Billy the Kid, Sleeping Beauty, and Les Patineurs. After retiring in 1969, she returned to Chicago and worked as an archivist for the Newberry Library until her death in 2018.

November 20, 2015: Ruth Ann Koesun was interviewed at the Newberry Library, where she volunteered and donated her personal archives. She discussed her early ballet training in Chicago and joining American Ballet Theatre. Koesun recalled favorite performances and what it was like to tour during World War II. She She also described how she remained working in dance after retiring and returning to Chicago.

ballet american ballet theatre performing touring pointe john kriza chinatown chinese doctor guild newberry


"He wanted me to join Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and he offered me the Chinese dance in the Nutcracker, and I declined. I thought I was being typecast."

Auditioning for American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Russe

"I was born and raised in Chinatown...

the day after graduation, I left for

New York."

Chicago Roots and One Year in New York

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