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Ruth Levy dance photographs

Identifier: Dance-MS-LevyR

Scope and Content of the Collection

Slides, negatives, proof sheets, and black and white photographs of various dance companies taken by Ruth Levy. Many materials are present in each format. Dance companies represented in the collection include the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the American Ballet Theatre, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Joffrey Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and the Ruth Page Chicago Ballet. International dance companies, such as Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, Darpana Academy of the Performing Arts of India, and the National Dance Company of Senegal are also represented. Dance companies from Mexico and Bali also appear in the materials. Locations include both Chicago and New York City with some images of the cities present in the various formats. Negatives include 35 mm, 120 mm, and 4 mm x 3 mm sizes. Slides and negatives are in both black and white and color. Photographs include 8 in. x 10 in., 11 in. x 14 in., 11 in. x 18 in., and 20 in. x 24 in. The majority of the oversized photographs are mounted and the size listed indicates the final mounted size, although the photos present are smaller. Some oversized photographs are not mounted. Personal slides, negatives, proof sheets, photographs, and correspondence are also included. The collection also contains newspaper clippings referencing her Chicago Public Library exhibit as well as a signed Joffrey poster. The collection also contains a portrait of her former dance teacher, Andreas Pavley, drawn by her father, John Doctoroff, with an inscription from Pavley. Some personal and professional materials are oversized.


  • Creation: 1928-1976
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1973



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Ruth Levy dance photographs are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Ruth Levy dance photographs are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Ruth Levy

Chicago area photographer.

Ruth Levy is the daughter of well-known portrait painter John Doctoroff. As a child, she performed as a dancer with the Pavley/Oukrainsky Junior Ballet. She married Charles Levy, whose father founded the Charles Levy Circulation Company which distributed newspapers, magazines, and books throughout the Midwest and the United States. She later served on the company’s board. Levy studied at the University of Chicago and received her master’s degree in photography from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1972. Her master’s thesis was a photographic essay entitled, “Of Dance and Dancers” and was on display at the Chicago Public Library’s Cultural Center in 1974.

Levy served on the board of the Joffrey Ballet and was chairman of the Charles and Ruth Levy Foundation. She was the founder of the Chicago Committee for the Joffrey Ballet and she commissioned and helped underwrite a number of ballets choreographed by Gerald Arpino, Joffrey Ballet’s co-founder and artistic director.

Ruth Levy died on December 3, 1990.


7.5 Linear Feet (7 boxes, 4 oversize boxes, and 3 loose folders)


Ruth Levy, who performed as a dancer with the Pavley/Oukrainsky Junior Ballet, received a master’s degree in photography at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1972. This collection includes her slides, negatives, proof sheets, and prints of dancers in several companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the American Ballet Theatre, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Joffrey Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and the Ruth Page Chicago Ballet among others. Some of these photographs were part of her photographic essay “Of Dance and Dancers” and exhibited at the Chicago Public Library in 1974.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Slides, 1970-1974
Boxes 1-3
Series 2: Negatives, 1970-1976
Box 4
Series 3: Proof Sheets, 1970-1976
Box 5
Series 4: Photographs, 1970-1974
Boxes 6-7
Series 5: Oversized Photographs (11 in x 14 in), 1970-1973
Boxes 8-9
Series 6: Oversized Photographs (11 in x 18 in, 20 in x 24 in), 1970-1973
Box 10
Series 7: Personal and Professional, 1928-1974
Box 11

Collection Stack Location

3a 49 7


Gift, Barbara Levy Kipper, 1993.

Processed by

Diana Haskell, approximately 1993 and Kelly Schulz and Hannah O'Daniel, 2018.


Inventory of the Ruth Levy dance photographs, 1928-1976, bulk 1970-1973
Kelly Schulz and Hannah O'Daniel
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States