Albertina Rasch

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b. 19 January 1896, Vienna, Austria, d. 2 October 1967, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Trained as a classical ballet dancer at Vienna’s Royal Opera Ballet School, Rasch danced in Vienna…
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b. 19 January 1896, Vienna, Austria, d. 2 October 1967, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Trained as a classical ballet dancer at Vienna’s Royal Opera Ballet School, Rasch danced in Vienna from the age of 13 and appeared at the New York Hippodrome in 1911. She settled in the USA in the 20s, where she more readily found work in the chorus of musical comedies, revues and in vaudeville. She opened a dance school and also founded her own dance troupe, appearing with them in Broadway shows and also in Paris. Her first important job came when she was appointed dance director for George White’s Scandals (1925). She then joined the staff of rival Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, for whom she choreographed dance sequences for the 1927 and 1931 editions of his Ziegfeld Follies. She also prepared dance routines for his shows Rio Rita, The Three Musketeers (both 1927) and Show Girl (1929). In 1929 her dance troupe was featured in an underwater ballet sequence in the film Hollywood Revue Of 1929.

Many of Rasch’s routines used ballet steps and helped change attitudes on Broadway towards choreographers, who until the 30s had been referred to as dance directors. She worked on Three’s A Crowd (1930), The Cat And The Fiddle (1931), The Band Wagon (1931), Face The Music (1932), The Great Waltz (1934), Jubilee (1935) and Very Warm For May (1939). For all of these shows, Rasch was praised highly and her contributions undoubtedly helped in their success and popularity. Inevitably, Rasch’s choreographic skills attracted Hollywood’s attention and she went there to work on Rosalie (1936) and Sweethearts (1938). In the early 40s she was back in the theatre for Lady In The Dark (1941, and its 1943 revival), and Marinka (1945). After this, she worked for a while in Europe before retiring from the theatre. She was married to film composer Dmitri Tiomkin from 1925 and they worked together on some occasions, including the 1938 screen version of The Great Waltz.