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An audience favorite with showbiz glam, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a vampy ballet about a jealous Russian premier danseur and his hoofing American rival.
The original Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was created for the 1936 Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes, and featured Ray Bolger as "The Hoofer" and Tamara Geva as "The Stripper." The first full-scale ballet within a musical, and the first to advance the action of the show, it also introduced the word "choreography" to Broadway, at Balanchine's request. On Your Toes was also the first of four Rodgers and Hart musicals choreographed by Balanchine during the 1930s, the others being Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, and The Boys from Syracuse.
A story-within-a-story, it tells the tale of a jealous premier danseur, who hires a thug to kill a rival during the premiere of a new ballet. The ballet — Slaughter on Tenth Avenue — concerns the seedy denizens who patronize a strip joint near the New York waterfront where brawls frequently occur. Within the context of this shabby setting, a Hoofer falls in love with a Stripper and is discovered with her after closing time by the club's owner, the Big Boss, who accidentally shoots her. The "corpse" of the Stripper manages to pass a note to the Hoofer warning him of the real murder plot, and once aware that the thug, who is sitting in one of the theater's boxes, is planning to shoot him when he stops dancing, the Hoofer keeps repeating his closing phrase until the police arrive.
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